WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is promising the federal government will work to rebuild towns recovering from Hurricane Irene.

Standing on a bridge overlooking the rushing, rain-swollen Passaic River in New Jersey’s third-largest city, Obama said while the hurricane didn’t do as much damage as feared, people shouldn’t “underestimate the heartache” that places like Paterson are going through.

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The Passaic crested at twice its flood stage, depositing debris and muddy water stains on buildings and homes across Paterson. More than 100 people had to be rescued from the rising waters after Irene had passed.

Obama pledged to people all along the Atlantic Coast who were affected by Irene that he won’t allow “Washington politics” to get in the way of bringing federal help.

Last week, the White House told Congress that there’s a need for more than $5 billion in additional disaster relief money, not even counting the billions expected from Irene.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.