President Obama toured the devastation in Moore, Oklahoma Sunday, seeing firsthand the destruction wrought by the tornado that left 24 people, including 10 children, dead last week.
“Oklahomans have inspired us with their love, and their courage, and their fellowship,” Obama said. “There is no doubt they’re going to bounce back, but they need help. Just like any of us would need help.”
Obama toured the destroyed neighborhoods—including Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven students died while sheltering in place during the 40-minute storm—with Republican Governor Mary Fallin and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis told the president that the city is already printing up new street signs during the tour.
In a press conference Sunday afternoon, Obama urged the public to donate to the American Red Cross and said that $3.4 million have already been allocated to survivors of the storm. All told, 12,000 homes were damaged by the storm, and two schools and one hospital were completely destroyed.
Fallin said Sunday that more financial aid was needed to help with the recovery.
“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,” Fallin 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.”
The state’s Republican Senators Tom Coburn and James Inhofe had voted against a federal aid package to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy last fall, but both had indicated that they would approve an aid package for Oklahoma. In a statement last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that FEMA currently had enough funds to respond to the disaster.