President Clinton on Tuesday declared 11 Oklahoma counties disaster areas eligible for federal assistance.
Clinton was trying to clear his schedule to visit Oklahoma on Saturday. The president attended a memorial service in Oklahoma City three days after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
"My heart goes out to the people of Oklahoma and Kansas who suffered through a night of terror and devastation," Clinton said in a prepared statement. "Our top priority is to make sure people are safe, that everyone is accounted for and that initial cleanup can begin."
Officials who toured ravaged areas Tuesday morning saw a variety of damage. The worst areas look like a landfill that has not been buried by soil, the debris jumbled and extensively ground to pieces.
Streets were clogged with traffic, most of the hardest hit areas blocked by national guard checkpoints, with guard members in curt moods.
Locals stream to and from neighborhoods like refugees, carrying bags of ice, infants, dogs. Some are dressed in whatever they could salvage.
"It looks like the Murrah Building, but instead of nine stories tall, it's spread out over a large area," said Jon Hansen, Oklahoma City assistant fire chief.