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Obama: Nation to stand by Oklahoma survivors 'as long as it takes'

May 21, 2013|By Christi Parsons

WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Tuesday assured the survivors of Oklahoma’s deadly tornado that the nation is “there for them” and that the government will keep its focus on the rescue effort as long as is needed.

As emergency workers worked to find survivors amid the rubble in Oklahoma City and its suburbs, Obama said he has dispatched top officials to the region and directed his advisors to do all they can to help.

“Oklahoma needs to get everything that it needs right away,” Obama said in a morning statement at the White House.

The country will “stand with our citizens as long as it takes,” Obama said.

PHOTOS: Powerful tornado slams Oklahoma

Authorities in the suburb of Moore, Okla., are still trying to figure out the full extent of the devastation. At least 24 people have died. The count is expected to rise as the search efforts continue. The region faces the risk of more tornadoes on Tuesday.

Obama was briefed by top advisors Tuesday morning on the response and on the threat of more storms to come. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Vice President Joe Biden joined him for the statement to reporters on Tuesday morning.

Speaking before cameras in the State Dining Room, Obama said that Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate was on the way to Oklahoma to help coordinate the response with state and local officials. FEMA staffers were already in place on Sunday as the region prepared for the first wave of tornadoes.

PHOTOS: President Obama’s rough week

Obama has issued a disaster declaration to help speed direct assistance to people who suffered loss in the storm. He also pledged the help of the federal government in the immediate response and recovery efforts.

Meanwhile, Obama said, there are “parents to console” and “first responders to comfort.”

“You face a long road ahead,” he said of the devastated community. “But you will not travel that path alone.”

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christi.parsons@latimes.com

Twitter/@cparsons

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