After touring the parts of the city that were hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama touted the Big Apple's resolve and promised his support would go far beyond words.
Dozens of Staten Island residents gratefully hugged the commander-in-chief as he walked the streets with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials during his first trip to the city since Sandy Thursday.
Obama said he was amazed at how New Yorkers banded together during the last three weeks and said the rest of the nation is behind them.
"I'm very proud of you, New York," he said. "You guys are tough. You bounced back, just as America always bounces back. The same is going to be true this time."
The president said he was saddened by the 43 deaths in the city.
Obama said he had met with the parents of two Staten Island brothers - Connor Moore, 4, and Brendan, 2 - who were killed the night Sandy hit, when they were swept away by floodwaters after their mother's car stalled in high water.
Obama praised the work of an NYPD officer he identified as Lt. Kevin Gallagher for staying with the Moore family during the search for the children.
The president made his remarks after getting a firsthand look at the damage.
The president flew here on Air Force One, landing before noon at Kennedy Airport, and then took a helicopter tour of Staten Island and the Rockaways.
After the tour, Obama visited a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center on Staten Island.
The governor has estimated the cost of recovery at about $30 billion.
Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter to Obama Wednesday requesting he immediately submit a budget amendment to make $5 billion in existing disaster funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency available before year's end.
The president said FEMA will stay as long as they are needed, and he will "make sure we have followed through on that commitment."