May 27, 2013

Obama consoles tornado survivors

The visit to Moore, Okla., is the president's most recent to an American community recovering from a tragedy.

By SCOTT WILSON The Washington Post

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

President Barack Obama embraces a school official as he views the devastation of the Plaza Towers Elementary School, Sunday, May 26, 2013, in Moore, Okla., caused by tornado and severe weather last week.

AP

Farther on, Obama turned into another rutted driveway, and behind a blue tarp where a fence once stood was the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School.

The debris contained the evidence of a once-vibrant school -- encyclopedias and 2012 yearbooks, a textbook on Coretta Scott King and a child's workbook titled "Jamal's Surprises."

Swept up in the mounds, some higher than the school's original brick building, was a little girl's pink parka alongside the colored continents of a laminated world map. Only the dull buzz of a generator and the rush of the wind broke the wide silence as Obama hugged, chatted with and consoled a line of teachers, administrators, first responders, and parents.

"I'm just a messenger here today, letting you know that you are not alone," he said.

Obama noted that already city officials were printing new street signs for Eagle Drive and other damaged neighborhoods, proof of the city's resilience. "Oklahomans," he said, "have inspired us with their love and their courage and their fellowship."

Obama then made a short drive to the Moore Fire Department's Main Station 1, where a command post has been set up to oversee recovery efforts. After thanking the firefighters, police and medical personnel, Obama met privately with families of those killed by the tornado.

He called on the country to donate to the American Red Cross and help Moore in any other way possible.

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