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Obama: US will help Arkansas rebuild after storms



VILONIA, Ark. (AP) - Surveying the remnants of nature's destructive power in the country's midsection, President Barack Obama pledged Wednesday to residents of tornado-ravaged Arkansas communities that their government will stand with them until they finish rebuilding.

Obama said he wanted to visit this small city about a half-hour north of Little Rock to make sure those grieving the loss of loved ones, their homes and treasured possessions know that they will not be forgotten.

"I'm here to make sure that they know and that everybody who's been affected knows that the federal government's going to be right here until we get these communities rebuilt," Obama said after walking through a subdivision in which just six of its 56 homes had any part still standing after storms tore across the state on April 27, killing 15 people.

"When something like this happens to a wonderful community like this one, it happens to all of us," he said.

Obama first surveyed the rubble by air, peering down from the windows of his helicopter onto a subdivision of short cul-de-sacs that was destroyed. The still-visible rubble was evidence of the random but surgical devastation a twister is capable of.

After meeting privately with grieving families, emergency workers and local officials, Obama set out on foot through a section of Vilonia, where residents felt a sense of deja vu. Four people died after a tornado hit Vilonia in 2011.

"This town has seen more than its fair share of tragedy," Obama observed, speaking in front of the wreckage of destroyed homes. The sunny afternoon beneath a nearly cloudless sky was a sharp contrast to the dark storms that struck less than two weeks ago. "But folks here are tough, they look out for one another and that's been especially clear over the past week."

Obama said there is a lot of cleanup and rebuilding that remains to be done to make Vilonia whole again "but I'm here to remind them they're not doing this work alone. Your country's going to be here for you. We're going to support you every step of the way."



"I could not be more impressed by the spirit of the community that is here," he said.

Obama made the first visit of his presidency to Arkansas while opening a three-day trip to California to raise money for the Democratic Party, accept an award from a foundation created by movie director Steven Spielberg and discuss his energy policy.

His quick layover of several hours also has political implications for the state. Among the elected officials accompanying him on the tour was Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who is seeking re-election to a third term against Republican Rep. Tom Cotton in one of the most expensive and closely watched Senate races in the country. Neither faces an opponent in the May 20 primary.

Obama also was joined by Gov. Mike Beebe and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin.

Pryor's willingness to appear with Obama contrasts with other Democrats in difficult races who have chosen to keep the president at arm's length. Obama lost Arkansas in the 2008 and 2012 elections and remains deeply unpopular in the state, polls show.

Republicans have made major gains in Arkansas over the past two elections by tying Democrats to Obama and his policies, particularly the federal health care law. The GOP controls both chambers of the state Legislature and holds all but one of its congressional seats.

The Obama administration has designated four Arkansas counties as major disaster areas because of damage from the storm, part of a violent weather system that killed at least 35 people across the Plains and the South. The twister had winds between 166 mph and 200 mph, the National Weather Service said.

Obama visited a day after his administration released a new report on climate change that attributed severe weather such as hurricanes and droughts to global warming. The report, however, says the effect of climate change on the intensity or frequency of tornadoes is uncertain, and scientists are unsure whether climate change has played a role in recent erratic patterns of tornado activity.

The visit also was the second time in recent weeks that Obama has seen up close the force of nature's destructive power. Late last month, he visited Oso, Washington, where more than 40 people were killed by a massive mudslide in March.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
riverhosed May 07 2014 at 8:35 PM

Atta boy, BO!

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1 reply
thomashollman19 riverhosed May 07 2014 at 9:03 PM

-------------------------------AND THEY AIN'T GOT NO PORCHES FO PORCHEN---------------------------------------

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rjnegron May 07 2014 at 8:56 PM

I congratulate the President for taking time out of his schedule to help and support these people who have been affected by this tragedy! Of course their will be people who want to put the President down for trying to do something good because their are always nay-sayers and people who love to hate what is good! Just because you don't agree with the President's policies doesn't mean that everything he does is wrong. Our country will never be the great country it can be as long as we allow our political affiliation to determine our perspective. For some all Republicans and for others all Democrats can't do a thing right. How crazy is that. Our country is built upon the greatness of both parties working together to find balanced solutions. That's where our strength lies!

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2 replies
stepnet3 rjnegron May 07 2014 at 9:15 PM

It is his motivation that is wrong. The response is good but the man is self-centered and self-serving.

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Gayla rjnegron May 07 2014 at 9:22 PM

Rjnegron- I applaud what is good, and moral, I detest what is otherwise, and I think I speak for most Americans.

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Kathleen Teeple May 07 2014 at 8:57 PM

Just like him to use our money to go get an award...what an ass

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1 reply
kitharris1 Kathleen Teeple May 07 2014 at 9:15 PM

actually he has two fund raising events to attend and just needs to write off the trip at the tax payers expense.

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1 reply
Who Dat Nation! kitharris1 May 07 2014 at 9:34 PM

Well, do you both (Kathleen, Kitharris) live under a rock????? Did George Bush or Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan attend fund raising events???? YES, they did.....so what! Anything President Obama does, you try to spin it into a negative issue, even if previous Presidents did the same!!! The real deal here, is just your racist hatred for President Obama, and that is sad. I for one don't care is the President is black, white, purple or green.....he is a human being and the President of the United States and you can't stand that!!!!!! How about praying for those people who lost everything they own and the lives lost, and stop all the hatred and racism!!!

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rjnegron May 07 2014 at 8:59 PM

One more thing! “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16), I find my strength in Christ alone!

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2 replies
nurfaceart rjnegron May 07 2014 at 9:06 PM

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

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2 replies
sandra nurfaceart May 07 2014 at 9:31 PM

BRAVO!!!!!!...a human who truly knows it's bible ....amen to you!

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Southern Lady nurfaceart May 07 2014 at 9:42 PM

Nurfaceart....Why don't you go over to Nigeria & save those 300 girls that idiot kidnapped???
Otherwise you are useless, asking what price to sell your daughter, I believe you are a big joke!
Your either looking for attention or just a plain *******! I don't believe your an American, your kind shouldn't even be in this country (which you may not be) so go peddle your trash somewhere else.

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Gayla rjnegron May 07 2014 at 9:16 PM

Amen Brother.....

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sboore47 May 07 2014 at 9:00 PM

I am so glad to hear him say he is going to help Arkansas rebuild. At least he will be doing something instead of running all over the place instead of staying in the WH and doing his job.

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2 replies
sstanroberts sboore47 May 07 2014 at 9:10 PM

Didn't he say he was going to help the people in New Jersey too....how did that work out?

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3 replies
Mhairi sboore47 May 07 2014 at 9:15 PM

It's nice that he is going to "help them". However, he never stopped in Washington, IL and FEMA denied us funds. We were kicked in the you-know-what by the government. I hope he upholds his word to the people of Arkansas.

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nurfaceart May 07 2014 at 9:05 PM

All of these Republicans yelling "Photo Op" make me sick!

I guess this President can't do anything good without it being a "Photo Op" in your eyes.

So I guess your G.W. Bush never had a "Photo Op" then did he!?

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2 replies
stepnet3 nurfaceart May 07 2014 at 9:12 PM

Bush heard about Fort Hood, got in his car without any escort, and drove to Fort Hood. He was stopped at the gate and the guard could not believe who he had just stopped. Bush only asks for directions to the hospital then drove on. The gate guard called that "The President is on Fort Hood and driving to the hospital." and to let him visit the wounded and the dependents of the dead.

He stayed at Fort Hood for over six hours, and was finallyasked to leave by a message from the White House.

Obama flew in days later and held a "photo opportunity" session in a gym, and did not even go to the hospital.

All this I picked up from two soldiers here who happened to be at Fort Hood when it happened.

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2 replies
liind7 stepnet3 May 07 2014 at 9:15 PM

George BUSH flew in weeks later after Katherine disaster in NEW ORLEANS. What you think about that?

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ljr74 stepnet3 May 07 2014 at 9:55 PM

But Bush "flew over" New Orleans in Air Force one! Never getting out to survey the devastation or deaths. So Fort Hood makes him a hero? Not! A Zero, yes!

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ljr74 nurfaceart May 07 2014 at 9:49 PM

Of course, Bush did! When he stood there and yelled "Mission Accomplished" as the war raged on! Remember when people were stranded and dying from Katrina and Bush said "Brownie, you did a good job!" Both comments were Lies perpetrated for a Photo-Op. Republicans have selective memory.....

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susiegraymb0210 May 07 2014 at 9:07 PM

He has all the time in the world to golf, vacation, attend galas and fundraisers -- but he cannot and has not taken the time to show any support for Americans who have suffered such terrible fate. When he ever speaks on such matters, the idiot could not be more insincere. I don't ever want him talking on my behalf. And by the way, not ALL of California wants you here.

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2 replies
Who Dat Nation! susiegraymb0210 May 07 2014 at 9:26 PM

Well Susie, all the past Presidents took family vacations, attened galas and fundraisers and played golf. So, what's the point???? You, along with so many others on this comment page seem to have so much anger and hatred on your mind for the President. Your focus again should be on praying for those who have lost so much and lives lost due to the disaster in Arkansas, WA, Miss., etc. Do you know the President personally??? Then how can you say he is insincere? You may not want him in CA, but the fact is he will be there!!!!!

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ljr74 susiegraymb0210 May 07 2014 at 9:44 PM

"And by the way, not ALL of California wants you here."

Just the Majority! And the rest doesn't count.....

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nelsronit May 07 2014 at 9:09 PM

Here is a compassionate leader regardless of the political differences that exist between him, the Democratic Party and the voters.

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Racoon May 07 2014 at 9:11 PM

God please rid the united states on this man.

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3 replies
liind7 May 07 2014 at 9:12 PM

Why all the NEGATIVE COMMENTS FROM THE TRAILER TRASH ON THIS PAGE ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA. RACISTS RACISTS.

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3 replies
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