President Obama pledged Tuesday that Americans would support storm-ravaged Oklahoma “for as long as it takes” in the wake of a tornado killing at least 24 people in the suburbs of Oklahoma City.
“Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today, and we will back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes,” Obama said from the White House’s State Dining Room.
The president also phoned Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, promising that state officials will have “all the resources they need at their disposal.”
“As a nation, our full focus right now is on the urgent work of rescue and the hard work of recovery and rebuilding that lies ahead,” the president said.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma medical examiner lowered the storm’s death toll to 24, about half of an earlier estimate of 51 dead.
Obama had already declared Oklahoma a major disaster area, deploying federal aid to assist in the recovery effort.
“Oklahoma needs to get everything it needs right away,” Obama said.
In his remarks, the president alluded to similar tragedies in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2011 as examples of American resolve.
“In an instant, neighborhoods were destroyed, dozens of people lost their lives, many more were injured and among the victims were young children trying to take shelter in the safest place they knew: their school,” the president said of this latest tornado. “So our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.”