There are a couple of acknowledgements that I want to make, but let me begin by just saying that whenever I come to an area that’s been devastated by some natural disaster like this, I want to make sure everybody understands I’m speaking on behalf of the entire country. Everywhere, fellow Americans are praying with you, they’re thinking about you, and they want to help.
And so I’m just a messenger here today, letting everybody here know that you are not alone, that you’ve got folks behind you.
Obviously, the damage here is pretty hard to comprehend. Our hearts go out to the families who have been impacted, including those who had loved ones who were lost. And that was true for the parents of some of the children here at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
There are a number of people I want to especially thank, because they’ve engaged in some heroic efforts in dealing with this disaster. First of all, Governor Mary Fallin, thank you so much for your quick response and your outstanding work. Mayor Glenn Lewis, the mayor of Moore, who has been mayor here before, when there was a disaster, and because of his strong spirit and sense of community has been able to help lead the community through this disaster. We very much appreciate your work.
Representative Tom Cole -- not only is this his congressional district, but more importantly, this is his hometown. And so for him, this carries a special sadness but also a resolve in terms of trying to make sure that the city of Moore bounces back. Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City, a neighbor and friend -- we appreciate him being here. Craig Fugate is here, and obviously we are very proud of the work that he and his FEMA team have done. Susie Pierce, superintendent of schools here -- thank you for your leadership.
Amy Simpson -- I want to especially commend Plaza Towers Elementary School principal, as well as Shelley McMillan, the Briarwood Elementary School principal. They were on the ground when this happened, and because of their quick response, their keeping a level head, their putting kids first saved a lot of people. And they’re still going through some tough times. I can only imagine being their husbands, who are here, 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.
I want to thank Chief of Police, Jerry Stillings, and all the first responders in this area who were some of the first folks on the scene who were putting themselves at risk to save other people’s lives. That’s what first responders do -- but sometimes we take them for granted, and it’s important we don’t and we remember moments like that. That’s why it’s so important that we continually support them.
At my direction, Craig Fugate arrived here on Tuesday. FEMA was on the ground even before Monday’s tornado hit. And their teams have now completed searches of more than 1,200 buildings. 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. Obviously, there’s a lot more to come. But it’s not just a government response. We’ve seen incredible outpourings of support from churches, from community groups who are helping folks begin to recover.
This area has known more than its share of heartbreak. But people here pride themselves on the “Oklahoma Standard” –- what Governor Fallin has called, “Being able to work through disasters like this, and [to] come out stronger on the other side.” And that’s what we’ve been seeing this week.
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.
Continue reading this story on the...