May 21st, 2013
07:38 AM ET
1 year ago

Obama: Americans stand with Oklahoma for 'as long as it takes'

Washington (CNN) – Describing the tornado that swept across the Oklahoma plains as "one of the most destructive storms in history," President Barack Obama said Tuesday the state "needs to get everything it needs right away" to recover from the devastating twister.

The president, speaking from the State Dining Room at the White House, said he doesn't yet know the "full extent" of the damage or the "human and economic losses that may have occurred."

Dozens of people - including several children - were killed when the massive tornado struck an area outside Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon, officials said.

At least seven of the children killed were at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, according to a police official.

While the total magnitude of the storm's damage is unknown, the president pledged the country's resources as the community seeks to rebuild.

"The people of Moore, [Oklahoma] should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them, as long as it takes," he said. "There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms and bedrooms and classrooms and in time we're going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community."

Obama signed a disaster declaration for Oklahoma late Monday night, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. The declaration makes federal funding available to the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.

Funds can go towards grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs, the White House said. State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations can also use some of the money in those counties.

"For all those who've been affected, we recognize that you face a long road ahead. In some cases, there will be enormous grief that has to be absorbed. But you will not travel that path alone. Your country will travel it with you fueled by our faith in the almighty and our faith in one another. So our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today," he said. "And we will back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes."

Obama is receiving ongoing briefings about the recovery efforts from Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco and other senior members, according to the White House.

Obama told Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin Monday the resources of the federal government stand ready to assist her state as it recovers from the powerful set of storms that pounded an area near Oklahoma City Monday.

House Speaker John Boehner faced questions in a press conference Tuesday over how Congress will respond in support of federal aid efforts, given some in the GOP's resistance to robustly backing previous relief legislation without cutting spending elsewhere.

"We'll work with the administration on making sure they have the resources they need to help the people of Oklahoma," said an emotional House Speaker John Boehner.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed an incident team to the state, Obama told Fallin, and more federal resources are on standby as the extent of the damage becomes clearer.


Filed under: Oklahoma • President Obama
soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. just sayin

    Rudy NYC
    I cannot help but wonder what storm like this would do to an above ground oil pipeline....like Keystone.
    ---

    nothing survives a direct hit from a 300mph ef-5 tornado. i suppose your answer is to tear up the 2.5 million miles of pipeline in the usa because something might happen to them? maybe we can call it the chicken little bill?

    btw this doesn't make me go hmmmm at all. it is called living life and dealing with problems. just like the people in oklahoma ar edoing now and have always done.

    May 21, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. Just_One

    Does someone need to remind obama that it's rude to be late? CONSTANTLY LATE!!!

    May 21, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. much thunder..little rain

    keystone is where your thoughts are ..unbeliveable

    May 21, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. Boy Oh Boy

    Did you ever notice that Obama panders to tragedies that involve white people? Why does he make such a fuss over Newtown while many, many more gun violence deaths are occurring in his hometown of Chicago? Shouldn't he go there and make speeches and cry....oh, wait, that would make Rahm Emanuel look bad....can't do that....

    May 21, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. lIb

    I can't believe ANYBODY can be so cruel as to really think the President is using this tragedy to take people's mind of the so called scandals. First of all most of us credilble americans will leave that to washington while there are other things in life that matter more such as making sure the folks in OK get all the help they need. This president is more sincere and humane than any we have ever had. Do people really believe he has that much power to summon tragedies like this? Absolutely amazing. I can't believe what this man has to endure and how he continues on with so much strength. All the tragedies that have happened during his administration would have sent me to a loony bin. The loss of children alone would have made me crazy. I can't even read about the deaths of kids without crying and to think this man has to go visit families of lost ones no matter what party they are in and cry with them give them support.And everyone of these families need that and appreciate it. This president has done his best and I pray he continues to stay strong because we need him,. My prayers to all in OK no matter what party they are in. May God be with them and our president who I am sure knows this could have been his kids. The hate for this man is disgusting!

    May 21, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. just askin

    is he also going to make a statement about how his administration is now criminalizing journalism??? never before has our country seen this kind of blatant attack on journalists in an effort to harass and intimidate them from doing their job for the american people.

    May 21, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. The Real Tom Paine

    -Peoples State of Illinois

    @The Real Tom Paine

    No one should be using this horrible incident as an opportunity to indulge themselves in online political attacks: lets give it a rest for a day, shall we? Lets hope and pray for the safety and well-being of those afflicted by this catastrophe, and do something to help those in need.
    --–
    Agreed, though quite a few from the left (and a couple from the right) have already done begun the political attacks.
    *****************
    I know. I'm not condoning their choice by any means. I've also seen people on here use it as another opportunity to attack the President. This is not the time or place for it. for once I would like to see people on here pull together and focus on the job at hand. Too bad it always takes a catastrophe to remind us all that it could just as easily be one of us.

    May 21, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    That GOP train is never late !

    May 21, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    richard montgomery

    Obama is loving this.....takes the news off his scandals and now he can make empty promises to OK

    May 21, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
    ========================================

    Yeah.....he should do a 5 minute flyover from the safety of Airforce one.

    Or better yet, he should get to OK and other world affairs after he clears a little bit of brush.

    May 21, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. ginger

    So Barry Came To Work- Imagine That...Hes a weather man.

    May 21, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Dominican mama

    If you set aside her politics, there are many of Fair's comments which have made me laugh as well. And many of your own comments to her as well.

    May 21, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. Peace

    There are a lot of loose mouths on this thread who think always politics is applied everywhere even in death. Can you wait until when you are dying, we can also apply politics on you.

    May 21, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. dron3

    Oh thank God, I thought he was going to side with the tornadoes.

    May 21, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    much thunder..little rain

    keystone is where your thoughts are ..unbeliveable
    ----------------
    I've said my prayers. It's called looking ahead, looking for ways to avoid future disasters, taking a look around you at critical equipment and sites and evaluate the risks. It's called common horse sense, something which many conservatives lack.

    May 21, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. Damien

    I cannot help but wonder what storm like this would do to an above ground oil pipeline....like Keystone.
    =====
    nothing survives a direct hit from a 300mph ef-5 tornado.
    =====

    Actually a pipeline full of oil and with a low profile would likely weather a strong tornado. Cars, trucks, brick and mortar buildings are blown around really easily, but a pipeline would be very strong.

    May 21, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. LINDA OPERLE

    Wonder if they will want federal dollars. After all they make no secret of their disdain for anything Obama and anything the Federal government does. Passing laws that directly conflict with federal law and their successionist rhetoric may bite them now. You can't talk the talk then expect the rest of us to run in and help when you need it.

    May 21, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. STLian

    Most of the posters here are myopic narcissistic sad people. Think of, pray for, or just respect the dead and suffering in Moore please. Please don't bring politics into a place it doesn't belong. It's vulgar.

    May 21, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. OK

    Boy Oh Boy

    Did you ever notice that Obama panders to tragedies that involve white people? Why does he make such a fuss over Newtown while many, many more gun violence deaths are occurring in his hometown of Chicago? Shouldn't he go there and make speeches and cry....oh, wait, that would make Rahm Emanuel look bad....can't do that....

    May 21, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
    -

    You can always count on the crap to float to the top in a tragedy.

    May 21, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Jim

    Seriously, speaking from the State Dining Room at the White House, Where is all the help for these people.

    May 21, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Damien

    I cannot help but wonder what storm like this would do to an above ground oil pipeline....like Keystone.
    =====
    nothing survives a direct hit from a 300mph ef-5 tornado.
    =====

    Actually a pipeline full of oil and with a low profile would likely weather a strong tornado. Cars, trucks, brick and mortar buildings are blown around really easily, but a pipeline would be very strong.
    -----------------
    This storm threw a ceiling girder assembly from the elementary school's roof into a neighborhood half a mile away. The girder assembly was pretty much intact, too. And pipelines sit on supports.

    May 21, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Patrick Campbell

    There are some sick Republicans and other haters around. How can you bring politics into such a tragic situation.
    Just remember your day will come whatever you are.

    May 21, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. ialsoagree

    Should we deny sending any federal funding to any of the states affected? After all, they should have known this was going to happen and planned accordingly, it's their own fault, just like the victims of hurricane Sandy, right?

    Maybe we should debate the issue for the next 3-6 months before sending any aid?

    As a New Yorker, I don't actually advocate for any of those positions, I think that we should aid these states to the fullest extent necessary for their recovery. But the hypocracy is not lost on me. Many of these states voted against sending any federal aid to New York.

    May 21, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  23. Warren

    House Speaker John Boehner faced questions in a press conference Tuesday over how Congress will respond in support of federal aid efforts, given some in the GOP's resistance to robustly backing previous relief legislation without cutting spending elsewhere.

    What's that tell you???

    May 21, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  24. Greenspam

    Just as predicted, people suddenly get politically once Obama says something.

    May 21, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    God works in mysterous ways and so does mother nature!

    May 21, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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