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. Dan5404

    For a change, why don't all of us on this site cut out the partisan bickering and donate to the Red Cross? I just did. I didn't hesitate because Oklahoma has a Republican governor and politics that lean to the right, nor because I'm an Obama hater! I did it because those poor people don't give a crap how any of us feel about politics right now! They are Americans and they need help. That's all the reason you need. Just Google Red Cross and give at least $10.00 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund..

    May 21, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Paul Brinkster

    We stand by Oklahoma just like we stood by the Americans at Benghazi!

    May 21, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. Hamburger Jones

    " If fox news decides to make this into a political story they are going down the drain." FOX will just get richer and their faithful followers will eat up whatever they say. "Obama used contrails to make the tornado." "He sent soldiers to kill the wounded." "He had every church in Oklahoma knocked down and blamed a storm."
    Where are they going to hear different? The first thing FOX tells them is that all other media, including your local paper, is run by commie spies. So they sit in their farmhouses terrified, thinking we're on the verge of civil war, waiting for FOX to order them to shoot someone.

    May 21, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. ialsoagree

    "By the way, did you see the pork in the NJ disaster funding bills?"


    Firstly, this wasn't a "NJ disaster funding bill." It was a Sandy Relief bill. There was actually very little pork in it at all. There was funding for relief efforts in states such as Alaska for different disasters – or so the Republican senators claimed who demanded those riders be added before they would vote to pass the bill – but funding relief efforts for other disasters in a disaster relief bill can hardly be called pork by ANY stretch of the imagination.

    I read much of the bill. I also watched almost all of the debates in the House. Since you seem to think this is a "NJ disaster relief bill" I assume that you actually don't know as much about it as you purport.

    May 21, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    -Rancher Joe

    Oklahoma should immediately levy a surcharge on all meat and grain shipments to California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, etc. to help pay for the tornado damage.
    All the states you mentioned are agricultural powerhouses. Chances are that Oklahoma takes in far more than they generate interms of produce and grain, so maybe we should be sending you the bill for once again, propping up your lazy red state butts.

    There, happy now? I'm engaging in pointless partisan bickering, all to highlight the hypocrisy of people I have never met and will never been affected by.

    May 21, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. PeterD

    America has become a Third World Country under this Administration for sure.

    May 21, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. Chuck

    Well, I still haven't heard Senators Coburn and Inhofe yet. What are they waiting for?

    May 21, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. rare_earth

    Remember, folks. Those of you with love and compassion for your fellow man.
    Those of you that know that no man is without error. Those of you that know that this President has compassion for all Americans. Remember this; When hateful Republicans find fault, be pleased that he's doing a fine job.

    May 21, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. Hamburger Jones

    "Lincoln saw to the impossibility of that, with his taking away of states rights" You are actually Sarah Palin, History Expert, aren't you? Sorry, but you will never get to own slaves again. "States rights" doesn't mean what you think.

    May 21, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Norm

    Thank you Mr. President for your concern.
    it's a pity that in times of tragedy like this, certain people still can't seem to forget their partisan mental problems and unite as Americans.
    But that's the sort of thing that loses them elections.
    Maybe they will learn to be human beings first someday.
    If not...that's their own personal problem.

    May 21, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. LL

    Community underground shelters should be mandatory infrastructure in tornado alley.

    May 21, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. I'm Not a Gun Nut

    Thank you, President Obama. Oklahoma: I stand with you and I pray for the speedy recovery of your children, pets and other loved ones.
    Red States: I think it is sad that you spew hatred here and not on today's article about the two year old who shot himself in the mouth.

    May 21, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Dave

    You know Obama is quietly breathing a sigh of relief for this story deflecting attention from all of the scandals he was supposedly unaware of.

    May 21, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Jason

    This thread should not be about political bickering. There will be time for that later. Today we should focus on helping the survivors rebuild. If you can donate, do so. Even if it is just a couple of dollars.

    May 21, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. TONY

    @moochelle sotero
    your name have that moocher ring to it, you must be from one of those moocher red states. How out of touch you are I mean seriously you do not know that your republican party protects 1% of the population in America, did you follow the last presidential election

    May 21, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. Praying For OK.

    @Dan5054-Thank you very much for your post.

    May 21, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Hamburger Jones

    "Lincoln saw to the impossibility of that, with his taking away of states rights" You are actually Sarah Palin, History Expert, aren't you? Sorry, but you will never get to own slaves again. "States rights" doesn't mean what you think.
    It's amazing how many self proclaimed bible thumpers out there are wistufl for the glory days of slavery in the deep South.

    May 21, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. David

    The media told us to vote Obama. We dont like him, we were told to vote him in. We dont think as a nation anymore.

    May 21, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  19. Just A Guy

    SERIOUSLY, Can some of you guys put your hatred away for the good of the people of Oklahoma!!! I don't know Obama and will never meet him and the same is true with most of you, so why waste time in your lives HATING a guy who you have never met and has done absolutely nothing bad to you??? The people of this town suffered total catastrophe guys! Leave this story about standing behind Oklahoma and take all the political mess to another story PLEASE!!!

    May 21, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair


    I know that down South people rarely have basements, I believe it is because of the high humidity. But it seems to be that you can put in some ventilation that would keep the humidity at least on par with the upper floors.
    Actually, it's because the water tables are too high.

    May 21, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. Former Okie living in Cali

    -Rancher Joe
    Oklahoma should immediately levy a surcharge on all meat and grain shipments to California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, etc. to help pay for the tornado damage.

    California produces more food than any other state in the country so we could do it right back and get everything back plus interest.

    May 21, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    If you give them federal aid they would buy more assault weapons!

    May 21, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Chuck

    A federal relief funding bill will soon will soon be proposed for the Oklahoma Tornado. Waiting to see if Oklahoma Senators Coburn and Inhofe will vote "NO" when this bill comes to a vote in the same way they both voted "NO" when New Jersey's Hurricane Sandy relief bill came to a vote just a few weeks ago.

    May 21, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Send Joe, I'm sure he'll say something stupid!

    May 21, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. JackBriss

    Obama: We all stand with Oklahoma

    Obama will Stand, While all those in Ok, fall, He did the same with Sandy in NJ.

    May 21, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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