TIME Environment

Mudslide Community Praised by Obama During Visit

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the firehouse in Oso, Washington, April 22, 2014, after touring the devastation left by a recent landslide.
President Obama delivers remarks at the firehouse in Oso, Wash., April 22, 2014, after touring the devastation left by a recent landslide. Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

President Obama tells residents of Oso, Wash., their response to the disaster that killed at least 41 people was an "inspiration"

President Barack Obama paid a visit to the small community of Oso, Wa., on Tuesday, exactly one month after a massive mudslide there claimed at least 41 lives. He promised survivors that the entire country will be on hand to help for “as long as it takes.”

“While very few Americans had heard of Oso before this disaster struck, we’ve all been inspired by the incredible way the community has come together,” he said, noting how villagers had risked their lives volunteering to find their stricken neighbors, and provided meals, chainsaws and rain jackets to those working on the front line.

Even now the death toll may still rise, as search and clearing operations continue. After weeks of efforts, however, water standing six feet deep has been drained, facilitating the navigation of heavy equipment across the still treacherous terrain.

Obama’s visit came as he prepared a tour of Asian countries, two of which have recently been struck by their own disasters — Malaysia in the case of the missing flight MH 370, and South Korea where more than 150 passengers perished when a ferry sunk last week.

In Oso, the President told residents that their spirited response in the face of adversity was what “America is all about.”

“We recover, and we build, and we come back stronger,” he said.

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