VILONIA, Ark. (AP) — By air and on foot, President Barack Obama was getting an up close and personal look Wednesday at Arkansas communities devastated by recent deadly tornadoes during a quick visit with political implications for the state.
In his first visit here as president, Obama also planned to meet with grieving families that lost loved ones, local officials and emergency personnel. Fifteen people were killed in an April 27 tornado outbreak near Little Rock that destroyed hundreds of homes.
The president stopped in Arkansas en route to California on a three-day trip to raise money for the Democratic Party, accept an award from a foundation created by movie director Steven Spielberg and discuss his energy policy.
Surveying the path of destruction by helicopter, Obama flew over a central Arkansas subdivision of short cul-de-sacs that was destroyed, the still-visible rubble evidence of the random but surgical devastation a tornado can wreak.
Obama’s aerial tour was to include the city of Mayflower, damage surrounding Interstate 40 and rural Faulkner County, along with Vilonia, a small city about 30 miles north of Little Rock that suffered the most extensive damage from the storms.
In Vilonia, Obama was to take a walking tour of Parkwood Meadows, where just six of its 56 homes have any part still standing. He also was to meet at City Hall with families, first responders and recovery workers.
Obama was accompanied by Gov. Mike Beebe, Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tim Griffin.
Pryor is running for a third term against Republican Rep. Tom Cotton in one of the most expensive and closely watched Senate races in the country. Neither faces an opponent in the May 20 primary.
Pryor’s willingness to appear with Obama contrasts with other Democrats in difficult races who have chosen to keep their distance from the president. Obama lost Arkansas in the 2008 and 2012 elections, and polls show he remains deeply unpopular in the state.
Republicans have made major gains in Arkansas over the past two elections by tying Democrats to Obama and his policies, particularly the federal health care law. The GOP controls both chambers of the state Legislature and holds all but one of its House and Senate seats in Washington.
Former President Bill Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited the storm-damaged communities of Mayflower and Vilonia on Sunday, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate visited the day after the storm hit.
The Obama administration has designated four Arkansas counties as major disaster areas because of the storm damage. The National Weather Service has said the twister had winds reaching 166 mph to 200 mph.
The severe weather that hit Arkansas was part of a violent storm system that killed at least 35 across the Plains and South.
Obama’s visit comes a day after his administration released a new report on climate change that attributed severe weather such as hurricanes and droughts to global warming. The report, however, states that the effect of climate change on the intensity or frequency of tornadoes is uncertain, and scientists are unsure whether climate change has played a role in recent erratic patterns of tornado activity.
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(Photo Source: AP)
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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