Taking Control

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Obama visits tornado-affected region in Missouri Sunday to assure citizens “the whole country is going to be behind them.”

THE WHITE HOUSE

May 24, 2011

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ABOUT STORMS THROUGHOUT THE MIDWEST

Winfield House
London, England

10:34 A.M. BST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Before the day starts here in England I wanted to say a few words about the devastating storms that we’ve seen in Missouri and Minnesota and across the Midwest.

Like all Americans, we have been monitoring what’s been taking place very closely and have been heartbroken by the images that we’ve seen in Joplin, Missouri, in particular. The devastation is comparable and may end up exceeding some of the devastation that we saw in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, just a few weeks ago.

So far we know that over 100 people lost their lives. Others remain missing, and hundreds more are injured. And obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are suffering at this moment. And all we can do is let them know that all of America cares deeply about them and that we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure that they recover.

These storms often strike without warning, as we saw a little further south over the last couple of weeks. And it’s going to be important for us to make sure that we are sustaining our efforts at rebuilding after the news cameras leave. We can make sure that the families and communities upended by these storms have everything they need to pull through. And in that regard, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano as well as I have spoken with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. We’ve offered him not only our condolences, but we’ve told him that we will give him every ounce of resources the federal government may have that we can bring to bear on this situation.

At my direction, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy Administrator Rich Serino have traveled to Missouri to make sure our federal government is working hand in hand with state and local officials to give them the help that they need. And on Sunday, I myself will travel to Missouri to talk with folks who’ve been affected, to talk to local officials about our response effort and hopefully to pray with folks and give them whatever assurance and comfort I can that the entire country is going to be behind them.

Now, these storms that came this weekend obviously compounded what has already been an extraordinary storm season throughout the Midwest and in the South. We understand that there are more storms that are forecast today, so the thing I think I want to emphasize more than anything else, it is critical that Americans in affected areas heed storm warnings and take the lead of your local officials.

I know that a lot of people are wondering how they’ll get through the coming days or months or even years, but I want everybody in Joplin, everybody in Missouri, everybody in Minnesota, everybody across the Midwest to know that we are here for you. The American people are by your side. We’re going to stay there until every home is repaired, until every neighborhood is rebuilt, until every business is back on its feet. That’s my commitment, and that’s the American people’s commitment.

Thanks very much.

END 10:38 A.M. BST

Pool Report 2:
In a brief statement to the pool this morning, President Obama expressed his sorrow about the tornado devastation in Missouri, Minnesota and around the Midwest.

Obama said he will travel Sunday to the affected region in Missouri to assure people “the whole country is going to be behind them.”

He urged Americans to heed today’s storm warnings.

“We are here for you,” he said. “We’re going to stay by you.”

“We have been heartbroken by the images we have seen … The devastation is incomparable …
So far we know over 100 people lost their lives … Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are suffering at this moment.”

“We are going to do everything we can to help them recover …

Said it’s important to sustain efforts at recovery “after the news cameras leave.”

Craig Fugate has traveled to MO to make sure feds are helping, Obama said. Jay Carney says Obama talked to Fugate this morning.

The president walked out of the Winfield House into a small garden, wearing a dark suit and red tie. After speaking, he returned into the house.

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