Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happy to see the president in Arkansas

Posted By on Wed, May 7, 2014 at 2:09 PM


Pictures pouring are in on Twitter of people meeting, greeting or hoping to see President Obama. Such as this happy photo from Conway Regional Medical Center, where the president thanked the emergency room staff for their work with tornado injuries.

This picture is emblematic. Big crowds have assembled at all of the president's planned stops to see him. People are waving signs, waving and smiling. School kids have turned out en masse to see a president. If anyone along the storm's route is unhappy, they have been hard to find. The motorcades have slowed traffic some, but the outpouring of warmth, with an hour left in the visit, has been obvious.

That perhaps explains some change in tone from even some of the president's fiercest political enemies, from the standard condemnation to thanks for his expressions of solidarity with Arkansas storm victims. 

Sen. Mark Pryor invited the president to come. His political foe, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, is so sure of the president's toxicity in Arkansas that he's built his campaign on that belief. He was in Washington today giving a slashing condemnation of the president as virtually un-American, on the very day Obama was getting an enthusiastic welcome in Arkansas. Bad form.

More people wanted to meet the president than could be accommodated. But some got their selfies, including a young woman from Vilonia.


Some, however, weren't so appreciative.

click to enlarge critics.png
On the other hand:

click to enlarge beebe.png

ON THE JUMP: The president's prepared remarks:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, everybody. Obviously we just had a chance to tour some of the areas that were devastated by last week’s tornadoes, and had a chance to meet with some of the families who lost loved ones. I also had a chance to thank some of the first responders and the recovery workers and members of the National Guard who have been working nonstop to help families and businesses pick up the pieces after this devastating tornado.

I want to express my deep appreciation for Governor Beebe and his outstanding leadership; Senator Pryor, Congressman Griffin, Mayor Firestone. They all showed great leadership and were here, hands-on, on the ground throughout these difficult days. And I’m here to make sure that they know, and that everybody who’s been affected knows, that the federal government is going to be right here until we get these communities rebuilt. Because when something like this happens to a wonderful community like this one, it happens to all of us, and we’ve got to be there for them.

After the tornadoes touched down, I immediately approved a major disaster declaration to make sure every federal resource was available to help folks in Faulkner County and other areas affected by the tornadoes. At my direction, FEMA deployed Incident Management Assistance Teams to support local recovery efforts. Craig Fugate was down here the day after the storm, and a team of the Army Corps of Engineers has been helping search through the debris.

Here in Vilonia, the recovery process is just beginning. It’s especially difficult because this town has seen more than its fair share of tragedy. Almost exactly three years ago, another tornado leveled parts of Vilonia, and some families and businesses had just finished rebuilding when they were forced to start all over. But folks here are tough. They look out for one another, and that’s been especially clear over the past week.

Immediately after the tornado hit, about 200 people, including fire crews from other counties, were ready to go house to house searching for injured neighbors. Some survivors were driven to the hospital by complete strangers, and in the days that followed, thousands of volunteers showed up to help remove debris and hunt for belongings, pick up trash, deliver supplies and water. And one volunteer, 16-year-old Casey Williams did such a good job coordinating relief efforts that Arkansas state troopers started taking orders from her. I had a chance to meet her and she is extraordinarily impressive. So I don’t know what she’s going to be doing in the future, but I know it’s going to be something great.

More than any disaster, it is that dedication and that commitment to each other that truly defines this town. As one resident said, “We just say a prayer, and then get to work.” So the people of Vilonia and all the other towns devastated by the storm understand there’s a lot of work that remains to be done. But I’m here to remind them that they’re not doing this work alone, that your country is going to be here for you. We’re going to support you every step of the way. You are in our thoughts and prayers, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for the great leadership that you’ve shown. I know that you can count on your governor and your senator and your congressman here to make sure that every resource that we have available to you is going to be there.

And one of the things that the Mayor expressed to me that we’ve got some concerns about is when this happens in a town like this, it’s not just the infrastructure and the buildings that are torn down. You also lose part of your sales tax base. And so we’re going to have to figure out how they can make sure that they get back on their feet. And I’ll be sure to work with Congressman Griffin, Senator Pryor and Governor Beebe to see if we can do something on that front as well. But I could not be more impressed by the spirit of community that’s here.

We’ve got this gentleman right here I just had a chance to meet, who was in one of these homes where he lives just when the storm hit. Thankfully, he and his 16-year-old son and wife are okay. It’s a reminder, obviously, that as important as possessions are, nothing is more important than family. Those families that I had a chance to meet with, they’re still mourning those they lost. But they couldn’t be more grateful and thankful for the way the community has responded. So this is a testament to the strength of this community, the strength of Arkansas and the strength of America. And I could not be more proud of everybody who has participated in the recovery process.

Thank you very much.    

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Speaking of...

Comments (15)

Showing 1-15 of 15

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-15 of 15

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Baker Kurrus: Opposes Little Rock School District tax proposal

    Baker Kurrus has written a monumental essay explaining why he opposes the proposal in the May 9 special , the Little Rock lawyer and businessman who long served on the Little Rock School Board and spent a year as its superintendent after the state takeover before being fired by Education Commissioner
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • Before the flood

    Twitter is flooded with predictions of sandbag-requiring flash flooding and torrential rains today, particularly in Northwest Arkansas. Keep us posted.
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • Three homicides in Polk County and a continuing search for missing child

    The Polk County Pulse Facebook page has posted this video from Mena of Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer reporting Friday on the discovery of the body of a two-year-old girl in a developing multiple homicide case.
    • Apr 29, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • FOI lawsuit filed for State Police firing records on ABC enforcement boss Boyce Hamlet

    Russell Racop has filed, as promised, his lawsuit over the State Police's refusal — under guidance from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge — to release records that provide information that led to the firing of current Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet as a state trooper.
    • Sep 9, 2015
  • Lawyers plead for mercy in Fort Smith forum shopping case

    Twelve of the lawyers facing punishment by federal Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith for moving a class action case against an insurance company out of his court to a state court where it was speedily settled have filed their argument against sanctions.
    • Jun 16, 2016
  • Transgender electrician may sue employer over her firing

    Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright has ruled that Patricia Dawson, a transgender woman, may pursue her lawsuit that she was wrongfully fired by her employer, H & H Electric, because of her sex.
    • Sep 16, 2015

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments




© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation