*President Barack Obama promised victims of the deadliest U.S. tornado in 65 years that the federal government would help them rebuild, saying on Sunday it was a national tragedy.
“The cameras may leave. The spotlight may shift,” he told a memorial service for the 139 known victims of the May 22 twister. But the federal government “will be with you every step of the way until Joplin is restored and this community is back on its feet,” Obama said to a standing ovation from survivors.
Before the service in an auditorium at Missouri Southern State University, Obama rolled up his sleeves and toured a disaster scene where crushed cars, piles of wood, clothing and a broken dishwasher lay helter-skelter amid the debris on lots where houses once stood.
The president, who returned on Saturday night from a six-day trip to Europe, vowed to cut through any federal red tape to help with rebuilding that he predicted would be “a tough, long slog.”
“This is just not your tragedy,” he said after meeting survivors. “This is a national tragedy and that means there’s going to be a national response.”
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