OAK GROVE, Mo. — Missouri Governor Eric Greitens arrived in Oak Grove Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the powerful storms, which including an EF3 tornado according to the National Weather Service, leveled homes and businesses, to speak with members of the community and to assure those affected that they have his full support.
“We’ve signed the executive order today to make sure that as we do the assessment where federal assistance is needed and available, we will have that here in the state of Missouri,” he said, later adding that his team “took the proactive step of making sure that every possible state and federal resource can be applied where appropriate in this emergency.”
The governor would not say that he will apply for federal aid, but said that he would make a decision after full damage assessments are made.
Greitens said that his administration met with the State Emergency Management Agency Monday afternoon as it became apparent that the approaching storm would inflict widespread damage.
“Our State Emergency Operations Center went into work yesterday afternoon doing what we call ‘rostering,’ which is actually pulling together all of the teams that might be needed to do an immediate response,” Greitens explained. “When you have a situation like this, what’s really critical is that you have every potential police, fire, emergency assistance available to make sure that if somebody is trapped in a structure like this that we can pull them out.”
“Thank God that we didn’t have any fatalities,” Greitens added.
Greitens pointed out one structure that he said was completely leveled except for a small area which happened to be the precise location the family was hunkered down when the storm hit.
Along with promising assistance from official agencies, the governor expressed his admiration for the support from the folks of Oak Grove, and from people all across the state of Missouri.
“To be down here and see the tremendous, tremendous support from Oak Grove and all over the state of Missouri who are coming out to support their neighbors, to support their friends, to support their families in a time like this,” he said. “This is obviously incredibly painful and a difficult situation, but to see how this community comes together and how Missourians come together … is also really inspiring.”
Greitens said it was “incredibly impressive to see the resilience” of a community in the face of overwhelming loss and destruction.
“There’s tremendous pain, but on the other side of that pain, people build wisdom. There’s tremendous amount of suffering, but on the other side of that suffering, people build strength.”
He said the spirit of the community was inspirational not just as the governor, but as a fellow Missourian.
“You got 9-year-old kids putting on work gloves going through a home trying to salvage memories. We’ve got a retired state trooper here pulling out his state trooper hat out of the wreckage.” Greitens said.
But the most important message Greitens had to share, was the importance of coming together.
“I think that what’s really powerful for all of us to remember is that as friends, as family members, as neighbors, that in situations like this, we need to come together.”