The president has signed a disaster declaration and dispatched FEMA director and staff to the state.
"The people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them, as long as it takes, for their homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, their parents to console, first responders to comfort, and of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention," the president said in remarks delivered from the White House State Dining Room Tuesday morning.
Obama, who has been receiving regular briefings, has signed a disaster declaration, enabling those affected by the tornado to begin receiving federal assistance, and has sent FEMA director Craig Fugate to the state. He also said that FEMA staffers have been in Oklahoma since Sunday to deal with the first wave of tornadoes tearing through the region. In addition, the agency activated search and rescue teams on Monday from Texas, Nebraska and Tennessee.
The president warned that this is just the start of the bad weather season of hurricanes and tornadoes, and the extent of human and economic loss in Oklahoma is still unknown.
"What they can be certain of is that Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes," he said. "We've seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that's what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now."
Obama urged Americans who want to help to do so through online donations made to the American Red Cross, which is already at work on the ground in Moore.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)