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President Obama Tells Landslide Towns 'Whole Country is Thinking of You'

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

President Obama told an audience of first responders at the Oso fire house in Snohomish County that he and First Lady Michelle Obama "grieve with you."

The President spoke after meeting with family members of victims of the Oso landslide one month ago. Obama also took an aerial tour of the slide zone aboard Marine One.

The fire house was decorated with posters thanking emergency responders and proclaiming "Oso Strong." The President was flanked by the Governor and the congressional delegation including Senators Murray and Cantwell.

Obama spoke for several minutes and vowed the country will be “strong right alongside you.”

He concluded by saying, "Michelle and I grieve with you. The whole country is thinking about you."

Afterwards the President shook hands and took pictures with the young sons of the Oso fire chief. The boys said that their community is indeed "Oso strong."

Among those gathered at the fire house were the Chief of the State Patrol, the first state trooper on the scene of the slide, AmeriCorps volunteers and FEMA representatives.

One of several first responders at the fire station says it has been a terribly emotional month in this community, but he is grateful the president has come to see the slide destruction and to meet with members of this "Oso Strong" community.

Also on Tuesday, officials announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Snohomish County with more than $7.5 million. This first payment is part of a public assistance grant program that reimburses state and local governments for spending on recovery efforts in the aftermath of federally declared disasters.

President Obama stopped over in Washington state on his way to meetings in Tokyo.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."