President tours Vilonia, Ark: 'This town has seen more than its - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

President tours Vilonia, Ark: 'This town has seen more than its fair share of tragedy'

President Obama met with families who lost loved ones; he also thanked first responders, recovery workers, and members of the Army National Guard, who are working to help families and businesses pick up the pieces. President Obama met with families who lost loved ones; he also thanked first responders, recovery workers, and members of the Army National Guard, who are working to help families and businesses pick up the pieces.
After the storms, the president quickly approved a major disaster declaration to make sure federal resources would be available to help people in Arkansas affected by the tornadoes. After the storms, the president quickly approved a major disaster declaration to make sure federal resources would be available to help people in Arkansas affected by the tornadoes.

(WMC) – President Barack Obama toured some of the areas in Vilonia, Ark. that were devastated by an EF4 tornado last week. Fifteen lives were lost and the storm flattened houses and ravaged neighborhoods.

President Obama met with families who lost loved ones; he also thanked first responders, recovery workers, and members of the Army National Guard, who are working to help families and businesses pick up the pieces.

"When something like this happens to a wonderful community like this, it happens to all of us. We've got to be there for them," said Obama.

Cheryl McGhee and her husband hid in a closet when the tornado hit. That closet is one of the only parts of her house that remains standing.

"When I close my eyes at night, I hear it," she said. "We could hear the windows, the trucks, everything just coming through the house."

McGhee's neighbor, Gary Moore, is still looking for his dog, Bandit.

"Everybody says they're just pets, but to me, it's not. He's my family member," said Moore. "I left my hat, one of my favorite hats there to continue to smell, hopefully he'll get the smell back and come back home."

Daniel Smith is thankful he and his kids survived the massive tornado that destroyed their neighborhood.

"The more we watched it, the closer it got," he said. "We just said, 'You know, let's go ahead and get the kids' shoes on. We'll go use that facility they just put in at the high school for the safe house.'"

Smith and his two kids met President Obama during his tour of Vilonia on Wednesday.

"He said that he was sorry for everything," said Smith's son, Gabriel Dority. "I really felt like he cared about us."

After the storms, the president quickly approved a major disaster declaration to make sure federal resources would be available to help people in Arkansas affected by the tornadoes.

"This town has seen more than its fair share of tragedy," said Obama. "Almost exactly three years ago, another tornado leveled parts of Vilonia and some families and businesses had just finished rebuilding when they were forced to start all over, but folks here are tough. They look out for one another and that's been especially clear over the past week."

Immediately after hearing about the tornadoes, fire crews and volunteers from neighboring towns and counties began going door to door, searching for people who might be injured. In the following days, thousands of volunteers arrived to sift through debris, look for people's belongings, and deliver supplies and water.

"More than any disaster, it is that dedication and that commitment to each other that truly defines this town," said the president. "The people of Vilonia and all the other towns devastated by the storm understand there is a lot of work that remains to be done, but I'm here to remind them that they're not doing this work alone. Your country is gonna be here for you. We'll support you every step of the way, you're in our thoughts and prayers."

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved. 

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