President Barack Obama was in Moore, Okla., Sunday following the devastating tornado disaster that last week that killed 24, destroyed over 1,200 homes and damaged 10,000 more. President Obama said that while “I’m just a messenger,” he wanted the folks in this devastated town to know “we’ve got your back” and that the full force of the United States government would be there for the people. “You are not alone, that you’ve got folks behind you.”
President Obama spent the day touring the rubble, visiting with many impacted by the tornado and was there to see first-hand the relief efforts. President Obama visited Plaza Towers Elementary School and he also stopped by Moore Fire Department Station #1 to meet with first responders. That fire station has served as a command center throughout the disaster, first for search and rescue and now for survivor services.
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said that “support is not winding down. We will be standing with the people of these resilient communities as they come back stronger than ever.” Thus far, more than 450 FEMA personnel are on the ground, including the Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) teams, urban search and rescue teams, emergency communications teams and others that were deployed within hours.
4,200 individuals have applied for assistance, totaling $3.4 million. 43,000 meals have been served and 150,000 liters of water, thousands of cots, blankets and tarps have been distributed thus far.
President Obama singled out Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin for her “quick response and outstanding work.” President Obama also said that for Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), “not only is this his congressional district, but more importantly, this is his hometown. And so for him, this carries a special sadness but also a resolve in terms of trying to make sure that the city of Moore bounces back.”
President Obama also mentioned on the ground heroes “Amy Simpson, Plaza Towers Elementary School principal” and “Shelley McMillan, the Briarwood Elementary School principal.”
President Obama said of principals and Amy Simpson and Shelley McMillan that “They were on the ground when this happened, and because of their quick response, their keeping a level head, their putting kids first saved a lot of people. And they’re still going through some tough times. I can only imagine being their husbands, who are here, and the panic that I’m sure they were feeling when the tornado first struck. But I know that they could not be prouder of their wives for the outstanding work that they did in this amazing situation.”
He also praised Craig Fugate and his team at FEMA. “Craig Fugate arrived here on Tuesday. FEMA was on the ground even before Monday’s tornado hit. And their teams have now completed searches of more than 1,200 buildings. We’ve helped to register more than 4,200 people for disaster assistance, and we’ve approved more than $3.4 million in direct aid.”
But President Obama also said it is not just government that is helping. “We’ve seen incredible outpourings of support from churches, from community groups who are helping folks begin to recover.” He added that “Neighbors have been offering up spare bedrooms and couches for those in need of shelter. Universities have opened up their buildings for temporary housing. And local companies have pitched in.”
President Obama praised this community. “This is a strong community with strong character. There’s no doubt they’re going to bounce back. But they need help — just like any of us would need help if we saw the kind of devastation that we’re seeing here. We have about 1,200 homes that have been completely destroyed, but we’ve got 12,000 that have been damaged in one way or another, and that’s a big piece of business. And along with the schools, we’ve got a hospital that has been destroyed. It’s going to take a long time for this community to rebuild.”
President Obama said that “every American should “step up.” President Obama added that “If I’ve got one message for folks here today: Go online, donate to the American Red Cross. And if you’re from the area and you need to register for disaster assistance, you can call 1-800-621-3362. Or you can go www.DisasterAssistance.gov.”
President Obama added that “Either way, I guarantee you, if you’ve got some significant damage and have been impacted, go ahead and reach out, and there are going to be professionals there who are ready and willing to provide you the assistance that you need.”
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.