“Because of their quick response, their keeping a level head, their putting kids first saved a lot of people,” he said.
He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has registered 4,200 people for disaster assistance and approved $3.4 million in direct aid.
He said about 1,200 homes had been destroyed and 12,000 more damaged. He said it will take a long time for the community to rebuild.
“This is a strong community with strong character,” Obama said of Moore.
“There's no doubt they're going to bounce back.”
He urged every American to donate to the Red Cross. He then told the story of a Bible found in rubble after the tornadoes that was open to 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,” Obama said. “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 ...
“We know Moore is going to come back stronger from this tragedy,” Obama said. “And I want folks affected throughout Oklahoma to know we're going to be with you every step of the way.”
‘Rooting for you'
The motorcade then drove a few minutes to Moore Fire Station No. 1, which has served as a command center during the disaster. The flag at the station was flying at half-mast. Obama thanked relief and aid workers, telling them he was proud of their efforts.
“When we say we're committed to being here until the work is completed, we mean it,” he said.
“Everybody across the country is rooting for you.”
Afterward, the president met in private at the station for about 30 minutes with several family members of the children killed at Plaza Towers.
The motorcade then returned to Tinker Air Force Base, where the president again greeted military personnel on the tarmac and shook hands with Fallin and Cole before walking back to Air Force One.
Before boarding the plane, Obama greeted several weather forecasters from the Norman office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Storm Prediction Center in Norman. He posed for a picture with the forecasters before bounding up the stairs, turning and waving with his left hand and boarding Air Force One.
The plane was airborne at 2:45 p.m.