Obama tours Washington state mudslide wreckage

President Obama on Tuesday stopped in Oso, Washington to view the damage from last month's devastating mudslide and to meet with first responders and the families affected by the disaster.

At least 41 people were killed in the March 22 mudslide, and two people remain missing. Dozens of homes in the Oso community, northeast of Seattle, were buried. The president hailed the community's first responders for their valiant work and the "strength and grace" of the friends and family impacted by the tragedy.

"This is family," he said. "And these are folks who love this land, and it's easy to see why, because it's gorgeous. And there's a way of life here that's represented. And to see the strength in adversity in this community, I think, should inspire all of us. Because this is also what America's all about: When times get tough, we look out for each other. We've got each others' backs. And we recover and we build and we come back stronger."

Before meeting with residents in Oso, Mr. Obama flew over the site of the mudslide in Marine One. Though the disaster occurred one month ago, mud and debris still covered the mountainside, and ripped up trees dotted the landscape. A one-mile section of a state highway was still covered in debris, while bright-yellow excavators could be seen operating below. An American flag flew at half staff.

Mr. Obama issued an emergency declaration two days after the mudslide, and earlier this month he issued a major disaster declaration for the state of Washington so that federal aid and assistance could be dispatched to the state. The Homeland Security Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are all providing assistance.

From Washington, Mr. Obama leaves for his week-long trip to Asia, which begins in Tokyo and includes stops in South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.