Barack Obama visits Oklahoma after tornado, meets victims

Barack Obama visits Oklahoma after tornado, meets victims
Moore, Oklahoma:  US President Barack Obama arrived in Moore, Oklahoma, on Sunday to tour the town that was hammered last week by a powerful tornado that killed 24 people and assure its residents that the federal government would provide long-term help.

Obama, who arrived in Moore early on Sunday afternoon, is scheduled to witness the response effort in the storm-hit corridor and meet with members of affected families in a four-hour visit to the state.

"The president's message is that support is not winding down," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One. "As demonstrated by our efforts in Tuscaloosa, in Joplin, and those communities in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey that were affected by Sandy, we'll be standing with the people of these resilient communities as they come back stronger than ever."

Obama has been repeatedly called on in recent months to comfort shaken US communities, from a visit last month to Boston in the wake of the marathon bombings, to Newtown, Connecticut, the site of a December mass school shooting.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri, were hard-hit by tornadoes two years ago.

The Moore tornado, which rated the most powerful on the five-step scale used to measure the destructive power of twisters, ripped a 17-mile (27-km) long corridor of destruction through the suburb of Oklahoma City, flattening entire blocks of homes, two schools and a hospital in some 50 minutes on May 20.

It was the most powerful of a spate of 76 twisters that touched down in 10 states from May 18 through 20, causing an estimated $2 billion to $5 billion in insured losses, according to disaster modeling company Eqecat.

Some 377 people were injured by the Moore tornado, the deadliest such windstorm to hit the United States in two years.

© Thomson Reuters 2013
Story First Published: May 27, 2013 08:02 IST

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