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Transcript: President Obama's remarks in Moore

You can read President Obama's full remarks about the May 20th tornado that struck Moore, Okla.
Oklahoman Modified: May 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm •  Published: May 26, 2013

Neighbors have been offering up spare bedrooms and couches for those in need of shelter. Universities have opened up their buildings for temporary housing. And local companies have pitched in.

This is a strong community with strong character. There’s no doubt they’re going to bounce back. But they need help -- just like any of us would need help if we saw the kind of devastation that we’re seeing here. We have about 1,200 homes that have been completely destroyed, but we’ve got 12,000 that have been damaged in one way or another, and that’s a big piece of business. And along with the schools, we’ve got a hospital that has been destroyed. It’s going to take a long time for this community to rebuild.

So I want to urge every American to step up. If I’ve got one message for folks here today: Go online, donate to the American Red Cross. And if you’re from the area and you need to register for disaster assistance, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA. That’s 1-800-621-FEMA. Or you can go to on the web. Either way, I guarantee you, if you’ve got some significant damage and have been impacted, go ahead and reach out, and there are going to be professionals there who are ready and willing to provide you the assistance that you need.

We know Moore is going to come back stronger from this tragedy. Your mayor said that you’re already printing new street signs. And I want folks affected throughout Oklahoma to know that we’re going to be with you every step of the way.

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.

And when we say that we’ve got your back, I promise you, we keep our word. If you talk to folks in Alabama who have been affected over the last couple of years; you talk to the folks at Joplin, who I know have actually sent volunteers down here to Moore; if you talk to folks in New Jersey and New York, they’ll tell you that when we say we’re going to be there until you completely rebuild, we mean it. And I want everybody to have that confidence.

So, again, to all the people here behind me, I want to say how proud I am of them, how grateful I am for their service. I want to make one final comment. A lot of the first responders talked about the training they’ve done, in part through some federal grants, to prepare for disasters like this. And, as a consequence, when it actually happens, they know what to do, they’re not losing time, they’re able to go through all the drills and the training that they’ve gone through.

Training, education, both for citizenry but also for first responders, is absolutely critical. And we’ve got to make sure that those resources remain in place. So I know everybody in Congress cares deeply about what’s happening, and I’m confident that resources will be forthcoming when it comes to rebuilding. But remember that it’s also the ongoing training and equipment that we’re making sure that those things are in place. We can’t shortchange that kind of ongoing disaster response. We can’t just wait until the disaster happens. That’s how, in part, we were able to save a lot of lives -- and I want everybody to keep that in mind.

So with that, let me just, again, say thank you to everybody here. Madam Governor, thank you for your leadership. And may God bless the people of Oklahoma and obviously continue to bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

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