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. The Real Tom Paine


    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.
    Of course we can't act like Americans, because if we did that our compassion might be construed as weakness.

    May 21, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. Hamburger Jones

    It's pretty sad when the GOP blames Obama for tornadoes and half their voters believe it's true.

    May 21, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. Steve

    Did Obama find out about the Tornados on the news too?

    May 21, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. The Griot

    Jim, it hasnt even been one full day since the last tornado. Just how quickly do you expect a response?!

    May 21, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Peach

    See if you can find something with this headline that you can use to push your liberal agenda........ maybe surround yourself with the the victims of this tornado to push wind power or something......worst president EVER.

    May 21, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. CarolO

    Boehner says he's sorry for the victims of the tornado in Oklahoma, "especially" Tom Cole?
    Tom Cole who was not even there and did not lose a child? Let's see how willing the Republicans are to get some money released this time!

    May 21, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "Go suck a mango."

    Haha...gave me the giggles cuz all I could think of was telling someone that with a capital M for Mango, as if it's the character that Chris Kattan used to do on SNL lol

    May 21, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Gordyb102

    Gotta love a president who represents all the people, even the ones who vote against him from the red states.

    May 21, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. scott

    Obama has made if clear he hate Americans, this is a god send for him Obama needed this to distract Americans from his crimes.

    May 21, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. Deb Ed

    Quit sending money and aid to countries that spit in our faces. Some budget problems could be solved if we did this. It's a sorry day when it used to be "Americans come first", to "Other countries first, Americans second". It isn't just Republicans, it's Democrats and Independents, too. When will we say "We've had enough, we're taking back our country", and DO it.

    May 21, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Jim

    He said the same thing to the victims of Sandy & Irene. Lots & lots of talk

    May 21, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. fred mack

    just like NJ mr. prez?

    May 21, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @just asking

    You should read up on GWB's scandals.

    -Warrantless NSA wiretapping/Surveillance program
    -2007 Justice Department dismissala of 8 U.S. Attorneys
    -Bush White House email scandal in violation of the 1978 Presidential Records Act and the 1939 Hatch Act
    -The Libby Scandal in which the Bush White House leaked the identity of an Ambassador's wife who was a CIA agent
    -What CIA Director told GWB on conclusive findings that Iraq possessed NO WMDS
    -Predatory Lender's Partner in Crime

    Hey, you be the judge!

    May 21, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Aerin

    Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, both Republicans, repeatedly voted against funding disaster aid for other parts of the country. They also have opposed increased funding for FEMA.

    I say they get what they give, which is nothing.

    May 21, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. cali girl

    Oklahoma, all of you are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope they can find more survivors.

    May 21, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Rick

    Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is a DISGRACE. Obama offered the full power of the Federal Government and in Fallin's speech she left off Obama's offer until the very end and only as a "by the way".
    Her obsession with the far right is why 600,000 Oklahomans won't get better health care and she just cut taxes to the Oklahoma Wealthy but nobody else below them will be getting tax cuts but they will get fee increases.
    She's a big proponent of spreading tax burdens down to the poor to fit her sick twisted rightwing agendas.

    May 21, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. RobK

    Ya right, "we stand behind" everybody that has every had ANYTHING happen to them. I know it makes us all feel better about ourselves to spout this crap but they don't need out prayers, they don't need our "well wishes" and they don't need our pity. They need our help. REAL, tangible help.

    May 21, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Lance

    Thank you Mr President for your support. All of us in the Oklahoma City area are currently in a state of shock. Most of us know someone who lives in Moore, because it is a major suburb with good schools. Our kids, grand kids, and co-workers currently feel shut off from the world. There is no cell phone service to speak of. No water, no electricity. Everything you need for our "modern" world. Most parts of southern Okc have very low water pressure, which is better than Moore which has none. Our prayer is that they can get some electricity to our pumping stations, and that the carriers can get some communication devices installed so we can communicate. People are cut off from loved ones. We don't know who is dead, who is alive. People are not showing up at work, and there's no way to know where they are. Thank you America and the World. We love you, and know you are trying to help.

    May 21, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    In times of national crisis and disaster, this nation should stand united and give support to their fellow citizens..time to put aside partisan politics.

    May 21, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. bill dunn

    I wonder if the two Oklahoma Congressmen who voted against the New Jersey Aid bill will accept FEMA money and help from the federal government. Wheres the Oklahoma Teabaggers? Are they against the Federal Government getting involved now. Or should we let those losers fend for themselves?

    May 21, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. Josh

    Who changed the talking points from "Acts of God" to "Climate Change" , we need a full congressional investigation

    May 21, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. John Parker

    The hate in Ameerica since President Obama was exected is unbelievable. This is not about politic, its about helping fellow Americans.....

    May 21, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. MommaM

    My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Oklahoma – politics should not be a part of this – when someone needs our help in disasters like this we should be there. I saw all the trucks on the road to help those effected by Hurricane Sandy and was amazed with the organization and overwhelming support. I know those same people will be there to help the people of Oklahoma.

    May 21, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. BililyBob

    First of all for the W basher--the fed govt cannot help/go into a state, until being asked--the dem controlled state of LA and the dem controlled city of NO fought among themselves and this delayed help from W--when it was requested, the response was the third fastest in the history of Fema
    Second of all, little barry will never stand with the Boomer Sooner State. America will stand with the great people of that state as real Americans always help each other.

    For God and Country

    May 21, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. Smeagel4T

    As a supporter of our president, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to Speaker Boehner for committing to join with our president, as a fellow American, to help our fellow Americans in Oklahoma.

    May 21, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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