Napolitano: ‘We Are Moving Heaven and Earth’

By Patrick Burke | October 31, 2012 | 5:10 PM EDT

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. (AP)

( -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that relief efforts to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy will be among the most expensive in U.S. history, adding that the government was “moving Heaven and Earth” to get the clean-up done.

Speaking Wednesday at a cybersecurity discussion in Washington, D.C., Napolitano said, “We are now in the recovery mode, response and recovery. We are moving large amounts of resources into the affected areas. It will be one of the most, probably if not the most, extensive and expensive, one of the most in our nation’s history.”

Napolitano also urged “patience” as utility companies work to restore electricity and government entities continue to remove debris.

“So patience is going to be the watchword of the day,” she said. “We cannot wave a magic wand and get power back on. The power companies did pre-position work crews and equipment but the storm has to clear, the water has to go down.”

“In many places, debris has to be removed before power repairs can take place. It is a domino effect, and unfortunately that takes time and that requires patience,” she said. “We are moving heaven and earth, we will continue to move heaven and earth to get this done as quickly as possible.”

An August 2007 study from the Congressional Budget Office found that in 2005, Congress appropriated $94.8 billion in supplementary funds in response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the majority of which went to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The National Weather Service claims Hurricane Katrina caused $108,000,000,000.00 in property damage, the most for any hurricane since data became available in 1900. The second was Hurricane Ike in 2008, which caused $29,520,000,000.00 in damage.