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President lands at Tinker AFB, surveys tornado damage in Moore

President Barack Obama greets reserve Tech Sgt. Lindsay Newton, 507th Maintenance Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, May 26. The president landed at Tinker Air Force Base on his way to Moore, Okla. to survey the tornado devastation and meet with victims and first responders. Tinker employees that were personally affected by the May 20 tornado and base first responders got the opportunity to meet the president. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

President Barack Obama greets Tech Sgt. Lindsay Newton May 26, 2013, at Tinker Air Force Base. The president landed at Tinker AFB on his way to Moore, Okla., to survey the tornado devastation and meet with victims and first responders. Tinker AFB employees who were personally affected by the May 20 tornado and base first responders had the opportunity to meet the president. Newton is assigned to the 507th Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.--President Barack Obama greets Team Tinker Airmen affected by the EF-5 Tornado and first responders here May 26. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Jon Quinlan)

President Barack Obama greets Airmen affected by the EF-5 Tornado and first responders May 26, 2013, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.--President Barack Obama greets Capt. Russell
Ramsey and the family affected by the tornado here, May 26. Team Tinker members effected by the EF-5 Tornado that hit Moore Okla. and first responders, met with the president on the flight line before he traveled to Moore to see the devastation first hand.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Jon Quinlan)

President Barack Obama greets Capt. Russell Ramsey and the families affected by the tornado May 26, 2013, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Tinker AFB members affected by the EF-5 Tornado and first responders met with the president on the flightline before he traveled to Moore, Okla. Ramsey is a 72nd Air Base Wing executive officer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Jon Quinlan)

President Barack Obama exchanges kind words and listens to stories from Airmen at Tinker Air Force Base who either lost or had severely damaged homes after a devastating tornado wiped out several communities recently.  The president surveyed the area with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on Sunday, May 26, 2013.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Mark Hybers)

President Barack Obama exchanges words with Airmen whose homes were lost or severely damaged after a tornado devastated several communities near Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The president surveyed the damaged areas with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin May 26, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mark Hybers)

President Barack Obama steps off of Air Force One on Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., May 26, 2013, en route to surrounding areas damaged by recent tornadoes. Obama recently issued a major disaster declaration for Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain and Pottawatomie counties.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bradley C. Church)

President Barack Obama steps off of Air Force One on Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., May 26, 2013, en route to surrounding areas damaged by recent tornadoes. Obama recently issued a major disaster declaration for Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain and Pottawatomie counties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bradley C. Church)

Air Force One touches down at Tinker Air Force Base May 26, 2013.  President Barack Obama was here on a scheduled visit to tour the tornado ravaged Moore Okla., area after an EF-5 twister hit Monday, May 20, 2013.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Mark Hybers)

Air Force One touches down at Tinker Air Force Base May 26, 2013. President Barack Obama was here on a scheduled visit to tour the tornado ravaged Moore Okla., area after an EF-5 twister hit Monday, May 20, 2013. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Mark Hybers)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- President Barack Obama landed at here on his way to Moore, Okla. to survey the tornado devastation and meet with victims and first responders, May 26.
 
The president shook hands and spoke with some Tinker AFB employees, families, and first responders on the flight line here before traveling down to Moore, while encouraging people to continue to help.

Many Team Tinker members where personally affected by the EF-5 tornado that swept across Moore on May 20. For Tinker employees alone, over 165 homes were lost, over 200 homes were damaged with families displaced and over 130 homes were damaged but habitable, according to base officials.

At a press conference in Moore, the president highlighted that he is behind them every step of the way.

"When we say that we've got your back, I promise you, we keep our word," the president said. "We've seen incredible outpourings of support from churches, from community groups who are helping folks begin to recover. People here pride themselves on the 'Oklahoma Standard', being able to work through disasters like this, and to come out stronger on the other side. And that's what we've been seeing this week."

While standing with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and other state and federal officials, the president spoke about the efforts ahead.

"Our hearts go out to you...this is a strong community with strong character. There's no doubt they will bounce back, the president said. "But they need help."

In addition to Oklahoma National Guard, federal and state workers, more than 600 Airmen from Tinker AFB, Altus AFB, and Vance AFB, all in Oklahoma, volunteered to assist residents in recovery.

"I was humbled but glad to help our fellow Oklahomans in their time of need," said volunteer Maj. Cody Whittington, 507th Air Refueling Wing executive officer. "It really is all about giving back to the community that has supported the military for so many years."

Obama's signing of a disaster declaration within hours of the storm has helped speed aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More than 450 FEMA personnel are working on the ground in Oklahoma and they, along with volunteers have delivered 43,000 meals, 150,000 liters of water and thousands of cots, blankets and tarps, according to FEMA representatives.

Tech Sgt. Lindsay Newton, 507th Maintenance Squadron, met with the president here at Tinker but wishes it was under different circumstances.

"I was thankful to be given the chance to meet the president and I'm amazed by the support of the community," she said. "Our home was damaged, but we are fortunate compared to some folks that lost everything or loved ones. I'm amazed at all of the donations and support everyone has provided. I know that Oklahomans are really pulling together now and a lot of progress is being made towards clean up and recovering."

More information on disaster relief efforts can be found at the Tinker Air Force Base public website, www.tinker.af.mil.

(Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Affairs contributed to this report)