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Bush Surveys Tornado Damage in Tennessee

President Bush has toured areas of the south-central United States hit by a series of tornadoes this week. The storms killed at least 57 people and ripped apart houses throughout the area. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

The killer storms devastated parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama. Worst hit was Tennessee, where President Bush first surveyed the damage from a helicopter and then met with local and federal officials in the town of Lafayette.

"People have got to understand here in the region that a lot of folks around America care for them," he said. "I am here to listen to make sure that the federal response is compassionate and effective. I don't want people to think something is going to happen that is not going to happen. And therefore, when we say something is going to happen to help them get their feet back on the ground, it will happen."

The president has declared five Tennessee counties major disaster areas, which qualifies them for more federal aid.

These were the deadliest tornadoes in America in more than 20 years. Hundreds of people were injured. Hundreds of thousands more are without electricity.

Federal, state, and local emergency management teams are in the area as residents clear debris from storms that flattened houses and downed power lines.