President Donald Trump was greeted with shouts of “Amen” on Friday after he spoke with victims of a tornado that slammed through Cookeville, Tennessee.
Trump was joined by Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee as he toured the damage. At one point, Trump spoke with those affected by the storm — away from the media, though some snippets of remarks could be heard.
During his meeting with the survivors, many of whom shouted out “Amen” when Trump was done speaking to them, those he met with told him that support goes both ways.
“We’re a big family; we support you,” one man said, according to Breitbart. “We’re going to support you again.”
Trump called the community response to the tragedy “a case study — a case study of what should be done and how it can be done. It’s Tennessee.”
Prior to meeting with survivors, Trump was asked by the media if he had a message for the storms’ survivors.
“Well, I do have a message, and I have a message for the families of those that lost their lives: We love them; they’re special people,” he said.
“It’s an incredible place, incredible state. Tremendous heart. Already, you see people rebuilding. I mean, it took place literally hours ago — a couple of days — and they’re already rebuilding. I’ve never seen — we were flying over; you see the blue roofs going up. It’s all over the place,” Trump added.
“It’s just great people. It’s a great state. And they have great leadership in this state, and that’s why it’s working out like it is. But still, 25 people, at least, and some really very badly hurt. Very, very badly hurt.
Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton called his community “a war zone.”
“But the first responders — we can’t say enough about the first responders that were here. They went in — you know, they run in when everybody else is running out. And they ran in and took care of these folks — the police and fire and EMS. And it was an amazing night,” he said.
Speaking of the survivors, Trump said, “God be with them. And we’re going to be with them. We’re going to be with them all the way.”
“And I can tell you, the governor feels the same as I do. And the mayors — I just want to congratulate you, because the job you’ve done, everybody is talking about it. They haven’t slept in 48 hours. Neither have you, come to think of it. So we’re going to go see the people now and say hello to them and do whatever you can do. It’s tough,” he said.
“A lot of them have lost people within the family,” Trump added.
“One family got entirely wiped out. There was one case, though — I heard a young man was — an 8-year-old boy was ripped out, flown to a certain area, and dropped off at the street two or three blocks away. And they found him walking. And he said, ‘I just flew in the air.’ And he was walking down the street two blocks away from his home,” he said.
During the tour, Lee noted to Trump that “it’s been a painful, tragic week for our state, but Tennesseans are hopeful. God has used volunteers to bring hope to people all across our state. And your presence here reminds us that people all across the country care about what’s happening here. So we’re grateful.”
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