President Obama said the federal government will do everything it can to help those affected by devastating tornadoes that ravaged parts of the South Wednesday, killing nearly 300 and leading to a state of emergency in Alabama.
Speaking at the White House, the president noted the loss of life and expressed condolences.
"The loss of life has been heartbreaking, especially in Alabama. In a matter of hours these deadly tornadoes, some of the worst that we've seen in decades, took mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, even entire communities. Others are injured and some are still missing," he said, describing the damage as "nothing short of catastrophic."
"We can't control when or where a catastrophic storm will strike. But we can control how we respond to it. And I want every American who is affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover and stand with you as ou rebuild," he said.
The president said he will travel to Alabama to view storm damage on Friday and offer condolences to some of the victims. Later in the day, he is scheduled to travel to Florida to see the launch of NASA's space shuttle Endeavour on its final mission.
In addition, President Obama has spoken with governors in Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi. He said he told the state leaders that the federal government will help in "any possible way," particularlly in Alabama.
He also dispatched FEMA administrator Craig Fugate to Alabama to oversee federal assistance to the storm recovery personally.
The president made the remarks about the tornadoes at an event that was originally scheduled to announce a reshuffling of the leadership of the nation's national security apparatus.
Learn more here about the national security shuffle, in which President Obama nominated CIA Director Leon Panetta as the new Secretary of Defense and Gen. David Petraeus to go from commanding troops in Afghanistan to Panetta's old job at CIA.