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 (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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