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Superstorm was super-test for state and local leaders

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He got so much attention that he even poked a bit of fun at himself with a cameo over the weekend on "Saturday Night Live," where he appeared in the familiar blue fleece jacket that he has worn while touring the state following the storm.

All three men took firm command before Sandy arrived. Cuomo closed New York City's subways and tunnels hours before there was a threat of flooding and strategically "pre-positioned resources" days before, a move the federal transportation secretary later praised. Christie struck a get-tough note in ordering people to clear out along the coast, barking, "Don't be stupid" on Twitter. Bloomberg calmly ordered an evacuation of the city's low-lying areas.

And their leadership continued after the storm had passed.

Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University historian who wrote an award-winning book on 2005's Hurricane Katrina and has also written about Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Theodore Roosevelt and Gerald Ford, said the first rule in a disaster is to rush rescue and relief to the victims to keep the death toll down.

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