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)