Obama on Oklahoma Tornado: Country Will Be ‘There for Them’

President pledges full federal support for region

Last Updated: July 24, 2014 @ 12:42 PM

President Barack Obama pledged the government's full support to help Oklahoma recover from the tornado that has flattened communities and left dozens of people injured or dead.

"Oklahoma needs to get everything that it needs right away," Obama said during a White House news conference Tuesday. "Their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them for as long as it takes."

The massive twister cut a deadly path through Oklahoma on Monday, killing at least 51 people and destroying homes, schools and businesses. Whole neighborhoods are unrecognizable.

Obama noted that there were now "empty spaces" where once there were living rooms, and said that Oklahoma must dig itself out of the wreckage and "refill those spaces with love and laughter and community."

To help with that recovery, the president declared a major disaster in Oklahoma on Monday,  ordering federal aid and dispatching members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the state.

In a reference to the seven children who were found drowned at Plaza Towers Elementary School, Obama praised teachers “who gave their all” to help kids.

The president said the victims remain in the country's prayers, but pledged to "back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes."