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Obama on tornado devastation in the South: 'It's heartbreaking'


President Obama expressed dismay after touring some areas of the South that were devastated by severe storms and tornadoes.

The Associated Press is reporting that the death toll from the storms has climbed to 318, making it the deadliest day for twisters since the Great Depression. More than 200 of those dead are in Alabama. More than 30 lost their lives in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama.

Obama and his family arrived in Tuscaloosa Friday morning on a flight. He and the first lady witnessed flattened neighborhoods and rows of torn-up homes.

"I've never seen devastation like this," Obama said. "It's heartbreaking."

Officials estimate that more than 1 million people remain without electricity. According to the Tennessee Valley Authority, 612,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. More than 120 power poles or steel support structures were damaged, resulting in about 70 large transmission lines being out of service, including a large portion of the 500-kilovolt and 161-kilovolt lines serving northern Alabama and Mississippi.

"What's amazing is when something like this happens folks forget all their petty differences," Obama said. "When we're confronted by the awesome power of nature and reminded that all we have is each other."


Multimedia: April weather records

Obama views destruction from Alabama tornadoes

A rural town in northeast Alabama has the 2nd-highest death toll behind Tuscaloosa

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: President Obama speaks Friday during a stop in the Tuscaloosa, Ala., area, which was ravaged by tornadoes. Credit: Larry Downing / Reuters

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I'm all for using federal fund for assisting the needy, but....what happened to "we're broke." Where's the Tea Party, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Fox News, Alan Simpson and all the other "fiscal conservatives" to tell us that "government's not the solution, it's the problem!"? Could it be that the GOP base in the southeast finds itself in a position where a hot meal and dry blanket from a government agency is a comforting thing? Yet, the second that government tries to help someone without any political clout, that's down on their luck, then it's French cake eating time.

As, I talk with my mom on the phone is told me their looking to get bad weather, and it was a tornado helded their way.The tornado bypass them but headed near Tuscaloosa and hit them instead. My home town is near Tuscaloosa only about 20 to 35mins away, the next time I talked to my famliy they told me the tornado hit and it was bad. Still it didnt hit my concerns because, I didnt think it was that bad Untill, I started recieving phone calls and text message from famliy, and friends to see was my family was alright in Alabama. Last night I turned to the news, and I could not believe that Tuscloosa was Destroyed. Tears fell from my eyes to see those people lost love ones, homes, and their city. My famliy was safe this time but, for the ones that have family there also,and lost loveones.... My heart goes out to you and The City Of Tuscaloosa will be in my prayers I grew up down there and alway visiting my family, I travel and visit, and shop in Tuscaloosa,when I come home. next time come home it will never be the same again. After seeing this devasting storm, this could have been Livingston or York, Alabama.I will be counting my Blessing each day I wake up....... because the next minute, hour or Day is not promise to you.Life is to short.

"I feel your pain."


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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