The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

May 26, 2013

Obama: Gov't with Oklahoma 'every step' of the way

MOORE, Okla. —

President Barack Obama on Sunday 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."

"I'm just a messenger here," the president said, offering moral and monetary support to the Oklahoma City suburb where 24 people, including 10 children, were killed last Monday afternoon when the EF5 tornado struck.

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

"This is a strong community with strong character," he said. "There's no doubt they will bounce back. But they need help."

Obama urged the American people to make contributions as well, noting the loss of some 1,200 home and saying the damage was "pretty hard to comprehend."

Shortly after his arrival on a partly cloudy day, Obama road 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.

The White House said that FEMA 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 told reporters accompanying Obama to Oklahoma on Air Force One.

Obama walked along Eagle Drive, with the demolished school on his left and on his right, homes reduced as far as the eye could see to piles of rubble. Vehicles were turned upside down and toys like doll carriages and children's books were strewn with furniture and ripped out wall insulation.

"I know this is tough," he told one school official.

He met the Lewis family, who lost their home behind the school, telling them the important thing is they survived and could replace their things.

"What a mess," he told their son Zack, a third grader at the shattered school. Zack's father, Scott, ran into the school just before the storm hit and ran with his terrified son back to their home's storm shelter.

"You've got some story to tell," Obama told the boy. "This is something you'll remember all your life."

For Obama, Sunday's visit had a familiar ring.

Only five months into his second term, he has traveled as president over the last several years to the northeast to console people in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and visited Connecticut and Arizona to comfort people traumatized by shooting rampages. He also has undertaken his consoler-in-chief role at the site of plant explosions and mine disasters, not to mention last year's visit to support Jersey Shore people affected by Superstorm Sandy.

On Sunday, Obama flew from Washington to Tinker Air Force Base and shook hands as soon as he descended the stairs. Fallin, the first to greet the president, had said earlier that she appreciated the visit, but the that her state also needs quick action from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Republican governor said so far, the agency has done a great job of speeding relief and cash assistance to affected families, but said she's concerned about the long run.

"There's going to come a time when there's going to be a tremendous amount of need once we begin the debris clearing, which we already have, but really get it cleared off to where we need to start rebuilding these homes, rebuilding these businesses," she said on CBS' "Face the Nation." ''And we know at different times in the past, money hasn't come always as quickly as it should."

Earnest said Obama wanted to make the trip to offer condolences and reiterate his and the nation's commitment to rebuild.

"This is the greatest nation on Earth, and we're going to dedicate this nation's time, attention, resources and expertise to help our people in their time of urgent crisis," the spokesman said.

Earnest also touted the federal contributions so far, including Obama's signing of a disaster declaration within hours of the storm to speed aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Earnest said that 450 FEMA personnel were working on the ground in Oklahoma and have delivered 43,000 meals, 150,000 liters of water and thousands of cots, blankets and tarps. He said 4,200 people have applied for disaster assistance, and $3.4 million in payments have been approved.

Fallin said the money is particularly vital for the victims. "A lot of people lose their checkbooks, they lose their credit cards, they lose their driver's license, their birth certificates, their insurance papers, they lose everything, and they have no cash. And some of the banks were even hit, the ATM machines, so people need cash to get immediate needs," she said on CBS.

Among the tornado victims were 10 children, including two sisters pulled by the strong winds out of their mother's grasp, an infant who died along with his mother trying to ride out the storm in a convenience store and seven students at Plaza Towers. Many students were pulled from the rubble after the school was destroyed.

 

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Iowa State says data breach could affect thousands

    The Social Security numbers of nearly 30,000 people who enrolled at Iowa State University over a 17-year period were exposed in a data breach, school officials announced Tuesday.

    Five information technology servers on the Ames campus were hacked, and those servers contained the Social Security numbers of people who took certain classes at the school between 1995 and 2012, ISU officials said in a news release. There is no evidence that any of the personal files were accessed, the school said, and the records didn't contain student financial information.

    April 22, 2014

  • Iowa woman arrested after child falls from window

    A Manchester woman has been arrested after her toddler fell from a second-story apartment window.

    The Manchester Police Department says 27-year-old Stacy Neuhaus was arrested Monday in Iowa City. She faces charges of child endangerment. Court records do not list an attorney.

    April 22, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Basketball stars may linger on campus a while longer

    The NBA seems serious about raising its minimum age, which could signal the end of the one-and-done era in college basketball.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AGENDA: 4-24-14 Easton Valley Board of Education Special Meeting

    The Easton Valley Community School District Board of Education will hold a special meeting April 24 at 6 p.m. at the Easton Valley Elementary School.

    April 22, 2014

  • 'Piles and piles' of bodies in S. Sudan slaughter

    Gunmen in South Sudan who targeted civilians including children and the elderly left "piles and piles" of bodies, many of them in a mosque and a hospital, the U.N.'s top humanitarian official in the country said Tuesday.

    Toby Lanzer told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday that the ethnically targeted killings in a provincial capital are "quite possibly a game-changer" for a conflict that has been raging since mid-December and that has exposed longstanding ethnic hostilities.

    April 22, 2014

  • Biden: Russia must 'stop talking and start acting'

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that "it's time to stop talking and start acting" to reduce tension in Ukraine, offering a show of support for the besieged nation as an international agreement aimed at stemming its ongoing crisis appeared in doubt.

    Standing alongside acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Biden called on Moscow to encourage pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine to vacate government buildings and checkpoints, accept amnesty and "address their grievances politically."

    April 22, 2014

AP Video