May 21st, 2013
07:38 AM ET
10 years 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. Thinkergal

    Beats the heck out of Bush's and Brownie's responses to Katrina!

    May 21, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. Jim

    Just like Katrina and Irene... People still waiting...

    May 21, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. JFS

    What a horrible tragedy. Also, if you don't think a President would use this to take the focus off of other scandals, you can just put your naive head right back down into the sand.

    May 21, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. Hamburger Jones

    "I can't believe ANYBODY can be so cruel as to really think the President is using this tragedy "
    (1) Of course they don't believe it. They are just ready to attack anything he does.
    (2) Cruel? These people would cook and eat your children for political gain. "Cruel" was a long way back. We've gone straight to sociopathy.

    May 21, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. patNY

    So OK"s own congressional delegation is going to oppose any money for their own state's victims from this tornado, unless its offset by cuts elsewhere. Why don't they just save their time, and just resign from office now.

    May 21, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. The REAL Truth...

    Didn't take the right wingers long to start the mud slinging again.. did it. This is a tragedy. Should not be politicized. Time to mover on people.

    May 21, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. Eric

    Judging by the posts in this forum... the conservative base will NEVER be happy with ANYTHING our current Presidents does. Now he is too late to the tragedy? Did this not happen yesterday? Skip that, this is just smokescreen to get people off Bengahzi, and the IRS? Or he is pandering to white people... its been a long and sad time for the good Christian, conservative people... at least politically.

    May 21, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. Hamburger Jones

    "Did you ever notice that Obama panders to tragedies" Did you ever notice nobody cares what your fool opinion is? Go suck a mango.

    May 21, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Warren wrote:

    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???
    It's a fair question to ask of the Speaker, and one that deserves an immediate and honest answer.

    May 21, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Some of God's greatest gifts are answered prayers!

    May 21, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. peterz

    Someone could think they were above the law above the tax but could not be above the nature. We need tax to handle better this kind of event, especially in this tornado region

    May 21, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. Sniffit

    "never before has our country seen this kind of blatant attack on journalists"

    Really? After Bush and Cheney tossed Judith Miller in jail for refusing to disclose a source? Shut. Your. PIEHOLE.

    May 21, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. jonny

    Obama is looking to use this to distract us from the corruption in his administration. almost 24/hrs and no help yet. Just like another poster said. Different president but same crap

    May 21, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. MsLulu330

    This is what a good President does. Thank you Mr. President for taking the time to speak to the nation about this tragic natural catastrophe, and for the financial aid that you are sending to all those folks affected.

    May 21, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. David

    Both of Oklahoma's Senators have repeatedly opposed disaster funding in other parts of the nation.

    May 21, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. elucidated1

    The comment be JFS suggesting the President would "use this tragedy" is exactly what the angry right does every single time. And you can start with FF and then head over to Benghazi. At what point in time do we as Americans allow political discourse to take a back seat?

    May 21, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    If only NASA could find a way to confront global warming and ban twisters!

    May 21, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. catfishjoe

    Obama announced today that the federal government would help all tornado victims . Appicants for disaster relief should file the proper paper work, with FEMM, and expect a reposes within a week. All tea party tornado victims should also include five years past tax returns, along with a list of all friends and family members.

    May 21, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Kari

    God bless you Obama! Thank God for the aid that Oklahoma will be receiving. I have no doubt that this disaster will turn into a beautiful miracle. Better things are yet to come for the people of Oklahoma. One just has to keep striving to not give up, keep strong, and keep believing.

    May 21, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  20. Julian Assange

    Obama: Americans stand with _________ for 'as long as it takes'
    Please replace the space as disaster strikes...
    Politicians ARE ALL THE SAME!

    May 21, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  21. Thumbelina

    I'm surprised he's not pushing for a Bill to ban tornadoes. Maybe he will be pushing for a tornado tax on the midwest next.

    May 21, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. just askin

    where is all of the coverage of obama's war on journalists cnn??? all of this nice guy coverage while he shreds our constitution every single day. or will it take some of your reporters to be rounded up and prosecuted to make you take notice?

    May 21, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. Jay

    Sadly I see the political attacks already starting. I also see some conspiracy theories already starting. Disasters could happen to anyone of us. It's a shame that even on a forum that we can't act like Americans for one day.

    May 21, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. Jabbadahut

    I could be wrong, but are the people of New Jersey still waiting for aid?

    May 21, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  25. Simon

    this has nothing to do with politics. People lost their children in this disaster. Obama will be there, he always is there when people need him. Fox News needs to lay off this story unless they can drop their bias. If fox news decides to make this into a political story they are going down the drain. I pray for the families affected in this tragedy. Unfortunately it is a place with a history of tornadoes so hopefully when they rebuild they will get some tornado shelters in the school. If you came here to criticize the president, you are in the wrong place my friends.

    May 21, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11