“We aren’t going anywhere, we’ll be here as long as it takes,” Obama said from the local firehouse after meeting with victims’ families and rescue workers.
A massive mudslide struck Oso a month ago, killing 41 and leaving at least 2 still missing. A hillside gave way after heavy rainfall, covering the town with a fast-moving torrent of mud. In some places rescue workers faced 70 feet of mud and debris, hampering efforts to locate survivors, according to reports.
The president viewed the site of the disaster during a flyover aboard Marine One, accompanied by Gov. Jay Inslee and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. According to reports, much of the disaster's impact was still visible with debris covering the hillside and first responders seen searching for the missing.
The president met with families who lost loved ones at the Oso community chapel. The president said they showed “incredible strength and grace through unimaginable pain and difficulty.”
In brief remarks from the local firehouse, Obama pledged that authorities would be “relentless” in making sure Oso had the resources needed to rebuild.
“The country is thinking about all of you and have been throughout this tragedy,” Obama said.
The president said the town’s response to the disaster had inspired the nation.
“We’ve all been inspired by the way the community has come together and shown the love and support they have for each other in ways large and small,” said Obama.
“This is what America is all about. When times get tough we look out for each other. We get each others backs,” the president added.
From Washington state, Obama will depart for Asia where he will visit four nations on a week-long tour.