Obama: We’ll be in Oklahoma ‘as long as it takes’

Updated
President Barack Obama speaks about the deadly tornadoes that hit Oklahoma earlier this week, May 21, 2013. (Photo by: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).
President Barack Obama speaks about the deadly tornadoes that hit Oklahoma earlier this week, May 21, 2013. (Photo by: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

A somber President Obama promised Oklahoma residents that they will get every resource they need from the federal government as they try to rebuild their lives following the devastating tornado that ripped through the state on Monday.

“In an instant, neighborhoods were destroyed, dozens of people lost their lives, and many more were injured,” Obama said Tuesday from the White House. “And among them were children trying to take shelter in the safest place they knew, their school.”

He continued, “Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.”  ”We will back up those prayers with deeds as long as it takes.”

The enormous twister was a mile wide at some points, with winds as strong as 200 mph. As the tornado ripped through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday, it flattened entire neighborhoods, crushed a school and killed at least 24 people. The death the toll is expected to rise. The city of Moore was heavily hit, and rescuers there continued their search for survivors on Tuesday morning.

Obama said he spoke with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Mayor Glenn Lewis of Moore. “Oklahoma needs to get what it needs right away,” the president said, noting Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Craig Fugate is on his way to the state.

The president pointed to American resilience in the face of other natural disasters that have struck the nation, including in Joplin, Mo.; Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Breezy Point, N.Y. He also mentioned Boston, which was rocked by twin bombings at last month’s marathon.

“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 with you,” said Obama. “We are a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes.”

“There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms and bedrooms and classrooms,” Obama said. “And in time we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.”

Obama urged Americans wanting to help to donate to the American Red Cross, which already has boots on the ground in Moore.

Here’s how else you can help.

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Obama: We'll be in Oklahoma 'as long as it takes'

Updated