Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joked about a silver lining to Hurricane Sandy — that it has caused the city’s reporters to focus on news outside of Cook County, Ill.

“We are sending them some of the best reporters we have,” Emanuel told local radio host Bill Cameron when asked what his city is doing to help people in other states affected by the storm.

As the crowd laughed, Emanuel added, “He said, ‘help,’ and I thought that would be the best help to the city of Chicago!”

The Illinois Republican Party faulted Emanuel, President Obama’s former White House chief of staff, for making the joke.

“The loss of life and untold damage incurred along the East Coast demands a serious and solemn response,” said state party chairman Pat Brady in a statement.

Cameron noted that Emanuel also said that “he’s offered the mayors of Philadelphia, New York and Boston any help Chicago can give.”