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. Libdumb

    Yep just like Benghazi, the IRS assult, the reporter press result, etc. etc.

    May 21, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. fedupwithpolitics

    I and many others were Victims of Hurricane Sandy. Our Homes and Communities were destroyed and are not being rebuilt due to the Big Insurance Companies like Nationwide. Insurance Companies swept into Rockaway Beach NY and long island and their adjusters undervalued all the damage in BAD FAITH. Now Myself and many others are suing our insurance companies while our houses and community lies boarded up and ruined. Obama did nothing for us. I really feel for the people of Moore Oklahoma and I have once super piece of advice: Call your Lawyer or Hire one and Begin suing your Insurance Company. I know it's hard when your house, car and phone are destroyed but as soon as you get to one: Sue the Insurance before they lie and take advantage of you like me and destroy your life further. They are not on your side and you are not in good hands!

    May 21, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Tragedy

    Prayers to the people of Oklahoma. However in this time we need leadership, not political parties to respond. Good job our president can read off a teleprompter and send an email.

    May 21, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Dan

    What's with all of the partisan politics? This is a story about a disaster.

    Anyone that finds politics in this is a complete ignoramus and should be completely ignored.

    May 21, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    -Moochelle Sotero

    Here comes Barry with the free stuff, yay!
    OK already gets more than it send out to DC. $1.35 for ever $1.00 it sends in. Seems as though OK was the benficiary of other states' hard work for decades, states like NJ, NY, CA, IL: is this penetrating?

    May 21, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. LL

    I'm sick of the extreme right trying to politicize every little thing, while they aren't doing a darn thing FOR the people.

    Yes, GOP, we are noticing that is exactly what you are doing. Get your lazy backsides to work!

    May 21, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. SoSad

    Just donate to our fellow Americans through the Red Cross. Those that do not, don't post on this subject, leave it alone!

    May 21, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. ll

    I am sick of the extreme right trying to politicize every little thing...while they aren't doing a darn thing FOR the people.

    Yes, GOP, we are noticing that is exactly what you are doing.

    May 21, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. Larry L

    Don't think for a second that Senators Coburn and Inhofe will try to reject any of the federal assistance coming to Oklahoma. If anything, they'll find a way to find fault with the level and speed of support. Surely Republicans can gin-up a conspiracy related to the relief effort. They're lucky Democrats in the Senate will not filibuster – like Republicans have done to obstruct all progress.

    May 21, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. ColdWarVet75

    Notice what is different here than in New Orleans? People rolled up their sleeves and went to help others not yelling "where's my check", Bush blew up a levee, blah blah......People of Oklahoma talk to the people of New Jersey, the Dakota and Iowa floods. They are still waiting for help.

    May 21, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. fedupwithpolitics

    Yes JackBriss, You hit the nail on the head. Obama and The Insurance Companies will stand tall as they take advantage of you whilst you wait a year to get your money back. Then when you do get the money it will be just a fraction of what you need to rebuild while you pay a mortgage on a destroyed house. Sure Obama will stand tall and true while the Victims of the storm Fall just like flies like they did in New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

    May 21, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Freddie Howard

    All you people who are criticizing Obama during a disaster are no doubt a bunch of idiots, all you have is hate, spin and more hatred. You are no worthy of yourself than the hate that comes out of your mouth.

    May 21, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Bob

    Never let a tragedy go to waist! Barry at the podium telling his lies so all can hear. Ask the people on the East Coast how the Govt and Barry helped them??? He makes me sick!!!!

    May 21, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. fedupwithpolitics

    I'm still paying my Mortgage and my house in destroyed in rockaway beach. I have full Flood, Wind and Homeowners Insurance. Nationwide is Nationlied, they are paying out a 20% of the damages and awaiting Multi-Million Dollar lawsuits like my attorneys have been preparing for them. FEMA gave out chicken change, not enough to rebuild anything. Chase Bank is not giving a moratorium on their mortgages to me nor anyone else. In these Disasters, the minute after you realize your house, car and phone are destroyed you need to get to a working phone: call your family and let them know you are alive THEN Call your Attorney and start suing the Fraudulent Bad Faith Insurance Companies...Good Luck!!!

    May 21, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. Larry L


    What's with all of the partisan politics? This is a story about a disaster.

    Anyone that finds politics in this is a complete ignoramus and should be completely ignored.
    No Dan... this part of the disaster is absolutely about politics. You can't build a political platform around obstructionism in an attempt to weaken the Federal government AND expect a strong and speedy federal relief effort. Both of Oklahoma's Senators resisted offering disaster relief to other locations. This is a big teaching point to voters.

    May 21, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Russ

    All those Oklahoma Republicans who voted against aid for NY and NJ after Sandy, should send any money back to the BIG GOVERNMENT.

    May 21, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. Arsh

    Obama is a joke

    May 21, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. anthrogirl

    2 OK members of Congress voted against relief money for Hurricane Sandy victims. I know that the east coast liberal members will not stoop so low as to do that to the OK people in dire need of help. But the OK reps better watch out for those other 65 republicans who voted against the Sandy bill. They may want to hold the OK people hostage to their political whims as well. Let's hope not. These devastated families need much more than just our prayers.

    May 21, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. g

    democrat -how can i help. republican – how can i make a buck here

    May 21, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. Dave Gillespie

    Tragic. We should ask Senators Feinstein and Schumer to draft legislation to outlaw Tornadoes or at least get them to submit to background checks.

    May 21, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. Larry L


    Never let a tragedy go to waist! Barry at the podium telling his lies so all can hear. Ask the people on the East Coast how the Govt and Barry helped them??? He makes me sick!!!!
    Delays of services to the Sandy Relief effort weren't caused by the President. Get your information somewhere besides Fox News. Hate and racism are clouding your judgement. Take a look at the record of the Oklahoma Senators regarding Sandy Relief actions and you'll get a clue who obstructed the process.

    May 21, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. Mark B.

    Larry L. – don't be so naive. When those bills come to a vote they are loaded with nonsense that has nothing to do with relief efforts. Government should get out of the way and let businesses and dare I say it , churches and religious outreach programs like Samaritan's Purse help folks. Don't just repeat the talking points you get for the White House, look a little deeper.

    May 21, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Ban tornadoes!

    May 21, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. okfine

    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.

    May 21, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |

    If you'd care to educate yourself, you can look up the statistics on agricultural production by state on the USDA website. Oklahoma is not in the top 10. Furthermore, the states you mentioned already pay a "surcharge" by way of federal taxes, of which Oklahoma gets back more than they pay in. What does this have to do with homes being destroyed and people being killed in a disaster anyway?

    May 21, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Twisters don't kill! Dumb rednecks living in the path of twisters kill or rather get killed!

    May 21, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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