[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 15, 1998]
[Pages 565-566]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Exchange With Reporters on Tornado Damage in the Pratt City Neighborhood 
of Birmingham, Alabama
April 15, 1998

    Q. Mr. President, now that you've seen it firsthand, what do you 
    The President. It's horrible. But I'm glad so many people lived, 
like these people here. They were in the--they got warning, so they went 
in the bathroom and lay down. They have two 8-year-old twins. They had 
their children with them. So they're all unhurt.
    We've just got to make sure that they get--they have no livelihood 
here. And the important thing is that we move this assistance as quickly 
as we can to them.
    Q. What assistance are you bringing today?
    The President. We have all kinds of personal assistance, and we're 
also going to try to help them with the cleanup so they can get back to 
normal and also hire some people around here, while they're otherwise 
idle, to be part of the cleanup.
    Q. What are you trying to say to these people? It's got to be so 
difficult to talk to people----
    The President. I think the most important thing is that they--right 
now a lot of them are still almost in shock, but they're beginning to 
think--it's been a few days now--they're beginning to think about how 
they're going to live. And the important thing is that we work out all 
the practical problems of their lives right now--make sure everybody has 
got a place to

[[Page 566]]

live and food and income to live on--and then that we move all these 
claims through as quickly as possible and do everything we can to speed 
the process by which they can return to normal.
    There is so much grief and frustration and loss. The most positive 
thing that can be done is just to get everybody focused on tomorrow. If 
they've all got something to look forward to tomorrow, some progress, no 
matter how halting, it's been my experience that that's the healthiest 
thing that can happen, that everybody--just start people focused on 
coming back. And so that's what we're trying to do.

Note: The President spoke at 10:35 a.m. while touring the area struck by 
a tornado on April 8. A tape was not available for verification of the 
content of this exchange.