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Obama to storm-battered New Yorkers: 'You're tough'

President Barack Obama addresses the media after touring the New York City area to survey damage done by Hurricane Sandy.

President Barack Obama toured some of the hardest-hit areas of New York City on Thursday, neighborhoods still littered with the rubble of shattered lives and homes.

Obama’s first look at New York’s devastation included a helicopter tour above Queens and a visit to Staten Island, where he greeted people in a FEMA tent and then set out on a walking tour.

“I’m very proud of you, New York. You’re tough,” Obama said in brief remarks after walking through a storm-stricken neighborhood.

While many in the region have moved on since Sandy swept through the area, killing more than a 100 people and leaving millions without power, much work remains: Thousands are still without power, tens of thousands are homeless, and many more are trying to pick up the pieces.


“We Americans are going to stand with each other in our hour of need,” Obama said. “People still need emergency help, they still need heat, they still need food. We’re going to make sure we stay here as long as people need help.”

Diane Rivera, of Staten Island, described the storm’s impact on her life.

“Heartbreak, absolute heartbreak,” Rivera said. “We had a nice house and family here, and we were happy here and it’s gone. It’s gone. It’s our whole life we put on the curb for the trash.”

During his tour, Obama met with affected families, local officials and first responders dealing with Sandy’s destruction. He promised that the federal government would do all it could to help.

“We Americans are going to stand with each other in our hour of need," Obama said.

The president was joined by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both New York Democrats, traveled with the president too.

“Seventeen days ago, we felt a new vulnerability for the first time,” said Cuomo. “We must reknit the fabric of tattered communities.”

This is not Obama's first visit to the region since Sandy struck.

Rebuilding lives after Sandy, one photo at a time

The president traveled to New Jersey on Oct. 31 to meet with Gov. Chris Christie and view recovery efforts in coastal communities. The president viewed flattened houses, flooded neighborhoods, sand-strewn streets and a still-burning fire along the state's battered coastline. Parts of the New Jersey shore's famed boardwalks were missing.

Obama pledged to those affected by the storm that "we are here for you and we will not forget." 

Obama also traveled to Louisiana in early September after the Gulf Coast was hit by Hurricane Isaac.

Thousands of people in the New York region remain without power 2½ weeks after Sandy hit, including customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, just east of New York City, and in parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. 

Has Sandy left you in the lurch? If you're in need of aid and not getting any, we'd like to hear from you.

NBC News' Jay Gray and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

A snowstorm hits the Northeast as residents are still struggling to pick up the pieces after Superstorm Sandy.

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