Obama visits tornado-stricken Arkansas town

President Obama visited Arkansas today to promise residents of the town of Vilonia that the federal government will be there to help them rebuild in the wake of severe tornado damage.

The town was one of several that were devastated late last month when a tornado tore through central Arkansas and left behind a 30-mile path of destruction. Several people were killed.

"The federal government's 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," the president said.

He praised the quick relief effort, in which 200 volunteers gathered right after the storm hit to go house to house searching for injured neighbors and helping to clear debris.

"It is that dedication, that commitment to each other that truly defines this town," Mr. Obama said. He promised that residents could count on their local assembled officials - Gov. Mike Beebe, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., and Mayor James Firestone - to make sure the town had all necessary resources. In particular, Mr. Obama said that the recovery effort should include a way to help Vilonia get back on its feet while the local sales tax base is decimated.

"I could not be more proud of everybody who's participated in the recovery process," the president said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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