President Barack Obama visited Moore, Okla., where a large and deadly tornado struck last week, on Sunday to speak with survivors and survey the damage. Speaking at the site of a destroyed elementary school, Obama promised residents, “We’ve got your back.”
The Oklahoman reports that Obama arrived at Tinker Air Force Base outside Oklahoma City just before noon local time and thanked first responders and the people of Moore for their resilience. The president finished his speech with “May God bless the people of Oklahoma." Obama then began a walking tour of the most devastated areas of Moore.
Following his tour of the destruction in Moore, Obama stopped at Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was effectively leveled by the tornado on Monday. Addressing the families of students killed in the storm, Obama expressed his sympathy and also thanked Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin for her quick response to the disaster.
"Oklahomans have inspired us with their love, their courage and their fellowship,” Obama said. "This is a strong community with strong character. There's no doubt they will bounce back. But they need help."
Previously, Obama declared the Moore area a major disaster, allowing significant amounts of federal finds to go towards the city’s reconstruction efforts.
Obama is expected to stay in Oklahoma until early evening, when a memorial service for victims of the tornado will be held at the First Baptist Church of Moore.
Earlier in the day, Fallin appeared on CNN’s “Face the Nation” to discuss the storm and reaffirm her commitment to the city of Moore. Fallin specifically cites FEMA’s work as a valuable resource in the rebuilding process.
“So far, FEMA’s done a great job,” Fallin said according to Bloomberg. “There’s going to come a time when there’s going to be a tremendous amount of need once we begin the debris clearing.”
“There’s a lot to be done here; A lot of businesses closed, a lot of people without jobs because their businesses are closed,” she continued. “It’s not just a couple of houses with roofs off.”
Eric Brown is an IBTimes reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.