Obama Offers Federal Support to Oklahoma

Thu May 30, 2013 - West Edition
Nedra Pickler - ASSOCIATED PRESS


The extraordinarily powerful twister that struck Moore was known as an EF5, ranking it at the top of the enhanced Fujita scale used to measure tornado strength.
The extraordinarily powerful twister that struck Moore was known as an EF5, ranking it at the top of the enhanced Fujita scale used to measure tornado strength.

MOORE, Oklahoma (AP) President Barack Obama visited tornado-devastated Moore, Okla., consoling people staggered by the loss of life and property and promising that the government will be behind them "every step of the way."

The extraordinarily powerful twister that struck Moore was known as an EF5, ranking it at the top of the enhanced Fujita scale used to measure tornado strength.

The president offered moral and monetary support in the wake of the monstrous tornado that killed 24 people, including 10 children.

Standing with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and other state and federal officials, Obama recognized the substantial rebuilding job ahead and said "our hearts go out to you."

The White House said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already provided $57 million in rebates and incentives to help build about 12,000 storm shelters in Oklahoma.

“These storm shelters can be the difference between life and death,” Presidential Spokesman Josh Earnest said to reporters accompanying Obama to Oklahoma on Air Force One.

Once on the ground in Oklahoma, Obama urged the American people to make contributions, saying the damage was "pretty hard to comprehend." Obama said the tornado destroyed some 1,200 homes and damaged thousands more.

Shortly after his arrival on a partly cloudy day, Obama rode past grassy fields strewn with scattered debris, witnessing devastation so awesome that it appeared as if garbage had literally rained from the sky. His first stop was the demolished site of the Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven students were killed when the tornado turned the one-story building into a heap of bricks, broken concrete and twisted metal.

“I know this is tough,” he told superintendent Susie Pierce as he gripped her hand. As he walked, the demolished school was on his left and on his right, homes as far as the eye could see were reduced to piles of rubble. Vehicles were turned upside down and toys like a pink doll carriage and children’s books were strewn with furniture and ripped out wall insulation. Every tree had been stripped of its leaves and bark.