President George W. Bush today declared a state of major disaster in southwestern Kansas after a tornado wiped out about 90 percent of the community, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 60 others.


President George W. Bush today declared a state of major disaster in southwestern Kansas after a tornado wiped out about 90 percent of the community, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 60 others.

A statement from the President which can be found on the White House website:

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

ON THE STORMS IN KANSAS

Saint John's Church

Washington, D.C.

8:26 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Our hearts are heavy for the loss of life in Greensburg, Kansas. A tornado devastated that community. It just basically wiped it out.

I spoke to the governor and Senator Pat Roberts about the extent of the devastation. They said to me, it's hard to describe how bad this community was hit.

I declared a major disaster for that community, and I hope that helps. It's going to take a long time for the community to recover. And so we will help in any way we can. There's a certain spirit in the Midwest of our country, a pioneer spirit that still exists, and I'm confident this community will be rebuilt. To the extent that we can help, we will. The most important thing now, though, is for our citizens to ask for the good Lord to comfort those who hurt.

Thank you very much.

END 8:27 A.M. EDT

In addition to the brief speech by the President this morning, here is the full text of the press release where President Bush declared the Kiowa County area a disaster area and it read as follows:

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Kansas and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding beginning on May 4, 2007, and continuing.

The President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in Kiowa County.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding in Kiowa County.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

R. David Paulison, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Michael L. Karl as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said that damage surveys have been scheduled and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are completed.

FEMA said that those who sustained losses in the counties designated for aid to affected individuals and business owners can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time) Monday thru Sunday.