By Jueseppi B.
Statement by the President on the Mudslide Devastation in Washington State
Published on Apr 22, 2014
President Obama delivers remarks at the Oso Firehouse after viewing the devastation from the recent mudslide in the area and meeting with the families affected by this disaster, as well as first responders and recovery workers. April 22, 2014.
4:13 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, everybody. I just had a chance to tour some of the damage from last month’s mudslide. And, most importantly, I had a chance to spend some time with the families whose loved ones have been lost. I also had a chance to thank some of the amazing first responders, the firefighters, police officers, search and rescue crews, and members of the Washington National Guard who have been working around the clock to help this community recover from this devastating incident.
Governor Inslee, Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell, Congresswoman DelBene, Congressman Larsen, and the rest of the elected officials who are here, they’ve been relentless in making sure that Oso had the resources that it needs. And from the day of the tragedy, I’ve instructed my team to make sure that they get what they need to make sure that the search and rescue mission is going forward the way it should.
A FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team was on the ground immediately after the mudslide, and a search and rescue team was deployed to help locate and recover victims. We immediately approved an emergency declaration to provide additional resources to state and local responders. And I followed that by approving a major disaster declaration to help residents and business owners rebuild, and to help state and local and tribal governments with emergency work.
Today, that work continues. There are still families who are searching for loved ones. There are families who have lost everything, and it’s going to be a difficult road ahead for them. And that’s why I wanted to come here — just to let you know that the country is thinking about all of you and have been throughout this tragedy.
We’re not going anywhere. We’ll be here as long as it takes. Because while very few Americans have ever heard of Oso before the disaster struck, we’ve all been inspired by the incredible way that the community has come together and shown the love and support that they have for each other in ways large and small.
Over the past month, we’ve seen neighbors and complete strangers donate everything from chainsaws to rain jackets to help with the recovery effort. We’ve seen families cook meals for rescue workers. We’ve seen volunteers pull 15-hour days, searching through mud up to 70 feet deep. One resident said, “We’re Oso. We just do it.” That’s what this community is all about. And I think the outstanding work of Sheriff Willy Harper here helping to coordinate all of this — I was saying, he’s a pretty young sheriff, but he has shouldered this burden in an incredible way. And we’re very, very proud of him, as we are of all the local responders.
This is family. And these are folks who love this land, and it’s easy to see why — because it’s gorgeous. And there’s a way of life here that’s represented. And to see the strength in adversity of this community I think should inspire all of us, because this is also what America is all about.
When times get tough, we look out for each other. We get each other’s backs. And we recover and we build, and we come back stronger. And we’re always reminded that we’re greater together. That’s how we’ll support each other every step of the way.
I have to say that the families that I met with showed incredible strength and grace through unimaginable pain and difficulty. Uniformly, though, they all wanted to say thank you to the first responders. They were deeply appreciative of the efforts that everybody has made. And I know that many of the first responders have heard that directly, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat that we’re very appreciative of what you’ve done.
And I also want to say that some terrific lessons were learned in the midst of very hard times during this process, because almost uniquely, we had not just coordination between state, local and federal officials, but also coordination between volunteers and those officials. And I know that it required some improvisation and some kinks getting worked out, but it was important for the family members themselves and the community themselves to be hands-on and participate in this process — particularly a community like this one where folks are hearty and know how to do things, and take great pride in being self-reliant. It was important that they weren’t just bystanders in this process, they were involved every step of the way.
One last point I’ll make. I’ve received a number of letters from residents — either Darrington, or Arlington, or Oso itself — over the last several weeks, and one in particular struck me. It was from a firefighter who I may have met today; he didn’t identify himself. But he pointed out how those who were operating the heavy machinery during this whole process did so with an incredible care and delicacy because they understood that this wasn’t an ordinary job, this wasn’t just a matter of moving earth; that this was a matter of making sure that we were honoring and respecting the lives that had been impacted.
And two things were of note in that letter: Number one, that this firefighter pointed out properly the incredible work that’s been done under very tough circumstances. Number two, he was pointing out what others were doing, not what he was doing. And to see a community come together like this and not be interested in who’s getting credit, but just making sure that the job gets done, that says a lot about the character of this place.
And so we’re very, very proud of all of you. Michelle and I grieve with you. The whole country is thinking about you. And we’re going to make sure that we’re there every step of the way as we go through the grieving, the mourning, the recovery. We’re going to be strong right alongside you.
Thank you very much. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)
4:21 P.M. PDT
President Obama Tours Oso, Washington Then Speaks at the Oso Firehouse: The Slide Show Gallery
Party Like A Rock Star…Barack Takes Tokyo.
President Obama arrived in Tokyo Wednesday night for a four-country visit to the Asia-Pacific region. Obama’s travels through Asia aim to reassure partners about the renewed U.S. commitment to the region. (April 23)
Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit
“At 10:05 pm local time President Obama left Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant along with Ambassador (Caroline) Kennedy and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. “That’s some good sushi right there,” Obama remarked as he emerged from the restaurant after the hour and-a-half dinner with the prime minister.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station.
President Barack Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit
President Obama’s April 2014 Asia Trip Schedule
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
- In the afternoon, President Obama arrives in Tokyo, Japan
- Later, the President joins Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for a private dinner
Thursday, April 24, 2014
- In the morning, President Obama meets with Emperor Akihito of Japan at the Imperial Palace
- The President meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at Akasaka Palace
- In the afternoon, the President participates in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe
- Later, President Obama delivers remarks at a youth and science event with students at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
- The President visits Meiji Shrine
- President Obama attends the Japan State Dinner and delivers remarks
Friday, April 25, 2014
- In the morning, President Obama greets members of the U.S. Embassy in Japan
- Later that morning, the President bids farewell to the Emperor Akihito of Japan
- In the afternoon, President Obama travels to Seoul, Republic of Korea
- The President visits the National War Memorial and participates in a wreath-laying ceremony
- Later, the President visits Gyengbok Palace
- President Obama meets with President Park at the Blue House
Saturday, April 26, 2014
- In the morning, President Obama participates in a roundtable meeting with business leaders to discuss trade policy
- Later, the President participates in a Combined Forces Command Briefing at Yongsan Garrison and delivers remarks
- In the afternoon, the President travels to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- President Obama participates in an arrival ceremony in Parliament Square
- Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner and delivers remarks at Istana Negara
Sunday, April 27, 2014
- In the morning, President Obama greets members of the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia
- Later, the President visits the National Mosque of Malaysia
- President Obama meets with Prime Minister Najib Razak at Perdana Putra
- In the afternoon, President Obama attends a working lunch with Prime Minister Najib Razak
- The President delivers remarks at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center
- Later, the President participates in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall at the University of Malaysia
Monday, April 28, 2014
- The President travels to Manila, Philippines, and participates in an arrival ceremony at Malacanang Palace
- Later that afternoon, President Obama meets with President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines
- President Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Aquino
- The President greets members of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines
- Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner with President Aquino at Malacanang Palace
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
- In the morning, President Obama delivers remarks at Fort Bonafacio
- Later that morning, the President participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery
- The President travels back to Washington, D.C.
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