Update: President Obama visits tornado damage in Arkansas

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama arrived in Arkansas on Wednesday to tour communities that were hit hard recently by severe tornadoes.

Obama met with victims, local officials and emergency personnel. Fifteen people were killed April 27 when tornadoes ripped through the Little Rock suburbs.

When the president arrived at Little Rock Air Force Base by Air Force One, he was initially greeted by Col. Patrick Rhatigan, Commander, 19th Airlift Wing & Little Rock AFB, then the president shook hands with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, U.S. Congressman Tim Griffin, and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.

Wednesday's visit was Obama's first to the state as president. Beebe, Pryor, Griffin and Stodola rode with the president in his helicopter to Vilonia.

Around 1:10 p.m. President Obama landed in Vilonia after an aerial tour of storm damage. He met privately with storm victims' families, emergency personnel and first responders in Vilonia City Hall.

Around 2:20 p.m., the motorcade took a short drive past decimated homes and piles of rubble lining the street. President Obama then turned into the subdivision where nearly all the homes are leveled and began his walking tour.

After the president's tour of damage and meeting with families, he made remarks to the public in Vilonia. He thanked officials and first responders and promised all the help of the federal government as the town rebuilds. He also spoke with Daniel Smith, a surviving resident, and his two sons.

The arrival and departure of Air Force One was closed to the public.

The president made the stop while on his way to California, where he will raise money for the Democratic Party.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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