Live reporting: President Obama leaves Oklahoma after touring tornado damage in Moore

Oklahoman Modified: May 26, 2013 at 11:06 am •  Published: May 26, 2013
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photo - President Barack Obama tours the Plaza Towers addition in Moore, Okla., beside Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis on Sunday, May 25, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry The Oklahoman
President Barack Obama tours the Plaza Towers addition in Moore, Okla., beside Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis on Sunday, May 25, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry The Oklahoman
2:45 p.m. update: Air Force One has departed from Tinker Air Force Base. The plane was airborne at 2:45 p.m.

2:43 p.m. update: Air Force One is taxiing ahead of departure from Tinker Air Force Base.

2:38 p.m. update: The president exited his vehicle on the tarmac at Tinker Air Force Base. He shook hands and talked with military personnel for several minutes. He waved to those assembled as he walked back to Air Force One. He shook hands again with Rep. Tom Cole and Gov. Mary Fallin. The president shook hands with several people lined up at the foot of the stairs to the airplane, and then posed for a photo with them. He then climbed the stairs and waved before entering the airplane door.

2:31 p.m. update: The president's motorcade has started arriving back at Tinker Air Force Base.

2:30 p.m. update: Obama: "On Sunday, the first deadly tornadoes touched down about 40 miles from here. And I mentioned this the day afterwards -- there was a story that really struck me in the press -- in the rubble was found a Bible, open to the words that read: 'A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest.' And it’s a reminder, as Scripture often is, that God has a plan, and it’s important, though, that we also recognize we’re an instrument of his will. And we need to know that as fellow Americans, we’re going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore who have been impacted."

2:26 p.m. update: Some notes and quotes from Obama's earlier comments:

-"We’ve helped to register more than 4,200 people for disaster assistance, and we’ve approved more than $3.4 million in direct aid."

-"From the forecasters who issued the warnings, to the first responders who dug through the rubble, to the teachers who shielded with their own bodies their students, Oklahomans have inspired us with their love and their courage and their fellowship."

-Mayor Glenn Lewis "said that you’re already printing new street signs."

-President said he could only imagine being the husbands of principals Simpson and McMillin. "I can only imagine being their husbands ... and the panic that I’m sure they were feeling when the tornado first struck. But I know that they could not be prouder of their wives for the outstanding work that they did in this amazing situation."

2:17 p.m. update: After leaving Plaza Towers Elementary School, the president's motorcade made its way to Moore Fire Department Station No. 1. That station has served as a command post for disaster recovery. The flag at the station was flying at half staff when the president arrived. The president spoke to relief and recovery workers set up at tables in the empty bays of the fire station. The president also met at the fire station with families of the students killed at Plaza Towers. The motorcade left the fire station at about 2:10 p.m.

2:11 p.m. update: The president recently finished meeting with families of the students killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School. His motorcade was seen traveling through the streets of Moore near Interstate 35.

2:08 p.m. update: The president met with Moore School District officials, including Superintendent Susan Pierce, Plaza Towers Principal Amy Simpson and Briarwood Principal Shelley McNillin. He gave a long hug to Simpson and spoke with her for several minutes. He also talked to teachers who were in Plaza Towers when the tornado struck. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, told Obama that he grew up on same block as Pierce.

1:51 p.m. update: The president had an impromptu meeting with several aide and rescue workers and officials. He told them he was proud of them and that it would be a long road. He said a lot of lives were saved and that was due to great work and great coordination.

1:48 p.m. update: The president is expected to leave from Tinker Air Force Base prior to the 6 p.m. memorial service at First Baptist Church of Moore. Those wanting to attend the service are asked to park at Plaza Mayor of The Crossroads, formerly Crossroads Mall.

1:39 p.m. update: Obama: "When I say that we've got your back, we keep our word."

1:36 p.m. update: More from president's comments:

-To Gov. Mary Fallin: "Thank you so much for your quick response and your terrific work."
-"Oklahomans have inspired us with their love, their courage and their fellowship."
-"This is a strong community with strong character. There's no doubt they will bounce back. But they need help."

1:35 p.m. update: The president spent time at Plaza Towers Elementary School. He is expected to speak to the families of the students killed at the school.

1:28 p.m. update: More from president's comments:

- "I urge every American to step up. Go online. Donate to the Red Cross."
- "We know Moore is going to come back stronger from this tragedy."
- "We're going to be with you every step of the way."

1:12 p.m. update: So far on his walking tour, the president has seen:

-Huge piles of construction debris, some as high as 10 to 20 feet tall.
-Plaza Towers Elementary School yearbooks.
-Textbooks.
-Several waterlogged encyclopedias.
-A bright pink baby doll's stroller.
-A purple plastic toy camcorder.
-A pink child's parka.

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