ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
Noting that the “devastating” storms which have ripped through the southeastern United States have been “some of the worst that we’ve seen in decades,” President Obama today attempted to assure Americans he’s focusing on the domestic disaster.
“We can't control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it,” Obama said from the East Room of the White House this afternoon, “And I want every American who has been affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover and we will stand with you as you rebuild.”
President Obama announced that he will travel to Alabama tomorrow where he will meet with those leading the response efforts, as well as the families who are “reeling from this disaster.”
In remarks that were scheduled to announce the reshuffling of his national security team, the president briefly addressed first what has been done so far to help deal with the storm’s aftermath.
“I've already spoken to the governors of Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia and I've let them know that we are ready to help in any possible way. I've declared a state of emergency in Alabama so that we can make all necessary resources available to that state. I've dispatched Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate to Alabama so that he can personally work with state and local officials,”
The president said that the loss of life has been “heartbreaking” and the damage to homes and business is “nothing short of catastrophic.”
So far 164 tornadoes have been reported from Mississippi to New York, the worst tornado outbreak since 1974 when a super tornado outbreak killed more than 300 people.
“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.”
The president commended those who have been “working around the clock” for the last two days to help save lives and rebuild communities.
“And we pray for their success and we stand with every American affected by this disaster in the days and weeks to come.”