Bush Pledges Help for Tornado Victims

President Bush speaks at the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008, at the Agriculture Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Bush speaks at the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008, at the Agriculture Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (Pablo Martinez Monsivais - AP)

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The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 6, 2008; 1:21 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush told those affected by a string of deadly tornadoes in the South that the U.S. government will help them and the rest of the country is praying for them.

"Loss of life, loss of property _ prayers can help and so can the government," Bush said Wednesday. "I do want the people in those states to know the American people are standing with them."

The president said he called the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee and assured them the administration stood ready to help and to deal with any emergency requests.

"I wanted them to know that this government would help them," he said. "But more importantly, I wanted them to be able to tell the people in their states that the American people hold those who suffer up in prayer."

Bush made his comments at the start of the ceremonal swearing-in of his new agricutlure secretary, Edward Schafer.

Earlier, White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said the administration was prepared to handle the states' requests for help. Fratto said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was also getting in touch with state leaders.

"These storms are not over, they're still making their way across the country and they are dangerous," Fratto said. "We encourage people in the path of these storms to listen to their local weather updates, get the information they can get and to heed the warnings from the local officials."

Dozens of people were killed when a line of tornadoes swept across Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas on Tuesday, before moving east to Alabama.


© 2008 The Associated Press

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