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Obama Promises Oklahoma Will Get All Aid Needed ‘Right Away’

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama promised to make all federal resources available to the people of Oklahoma after a mile-wide tornado ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore and killed at least 24 people.

Obama said he’s dispatched the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the state, and that his administration has activated rescue teams and other resources to help in rescue and recovery efforts.

“Oklahoma needs to get everything it needs, right away,” the president said this morning at the White House. “Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them.”

Rescue workers were still searching the rubble of a collapsed elementary school for two dozen missing students after the storm struck. The storm left a path of destruction about 20 miles (32 kilometers) long. Hundreds of people were injured.

The twister was at least an EF-4 storm, the second most powerful, with winds as high as 200 miles per hour, according to Ryan Barnes, a weather service meteorologist in Norman, Oklahoma.

Obama was briefed today by Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. He declared a major disaster in Oklahoma yesterday, making federal aid available to people and local governments in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie.

The aid includes grants to cover home repair and temporary housing costs, along with loans to help pay for uninsured property losses, the White House said.

Call to Governor

Obama told Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin in a phone call yesterday that the administration stood ready to assist her state with whatever may be needed.

FEMA administrator Craig Fugate is going to Oklahoma today to oversee the federal relief and safety operations including search and rescue, according to the White House.

Three disaster assistance teams will arrive later today to help people register for federal aid, the White House said in a statement. Damage assessment teams begin their work today to help the state identify what other aid may be needed and three urban search and rescue teams have been activated.

To contact the reporters on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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