Obama pledges aid for Minnesota following tornadoes

WASHINGTON — President Obama today pledged support for Minnesota, Joplin, Missouri, and other areas hit hard by tornadoes, adding that he has been “monitoring what’s been taking place very closely,” despite being in London for an official state visit.

A tornado hit Minneapolis Sunday, killing one and injuring at least 30. Another person died while assisting in the clean-up efforts. City officials pegged the damage at at least $166 million, according to the Star Tribune. At least two other tornadoes also caused extensive damage in the metro area, including in Fridley and St. Louis Park.

South in Joplin, a massive tornado there killed at least 30. The New York Times reported a harrowing scene at a local hospital, which was slammed head-on by the tornado — “Glass shards exploded from every window, doors blew open, and even patients’ IV-lines were ripped from their arms.” …. “Nearly every patient was splashed or covered with blood from all the glass, and people in the emergency room on the first floor were sucked out of windows into the parking lot.”

Obama has already sent the head of FEMA to Joplin, and he said he’d travel there on Sunday to personally assess damage.

The level of aid was unmentioned in the president’s brief remarks from London, though he committed to ensuring communities damaged would be able to rebuild.

“I know that a lot of people are wondering how they’ll get through the coming days or months or even years, but I want everybody in Joplin, everybody in Missouri, everybody in Minnesota, everybody across the Midwest to know that we are here for you,” Obama said. “The American people are by your side. We’re going to stay there until every home is repaired, until every neighborhood is rebuilt, until every business is back on its feet. That’s my commitment, and that’s the American people’s commitment.”

Several members of the Minnesota congressional delegation have said they’ll work to get federal aid dollars to assist with the cleanup.

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