- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

President Bush yesterday ordered federal disaster relief to Kansas for a series of tornadoes and storms that on Friday destroyed an entire town, killing at least 10, and hammered much of the Midwest on Saturday.

“Our hearts are heavy for the loss of life in Greensburg, Kansas. A tornado devastated that community. It just basically wiped it out,” Mr. Bush said after attending morning services at St. John’s Church in the District.

The hardest-hit area was Greensburg, a town of 1,500, in southwestern Kansas, which was struck by a tornado — estimated by some storm chasers to be anywhere from a half-mile to a mile wide — that flattened most of the town and killed at least eight persons.

Mr. Bush said he had spoken to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, and to Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, who have seen the damage firsthand.

“They said to me, it’s hard to describe how bad this community was hit,” said Mr. Bush, speaking to reporters with first lady Laura Bush. “It’s going to take a long time for the community to recover.”

Tornadoes and floods continued to hit the Midwest on Saturday. The National Weather Service reported more than 60 tornado touchdowns, 40 of them between 6 and 9 p.m. Tornado warnings were in effect in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa.

Mr. Bush’s declaration of a major disaster area in Kansas makes federal funds available for relief and recovery.

R. David Paulison, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, named Michael L. Karl as the coordinating officer for federal recovery efforts in the affected areas.

The president said he is “confident” that Greensburg will be rebuilt.

“There’s a certain spirit in the Midwest of our country, a pioneer spirit that still exists,” Mr. Bush said. “The most important thing now, though, is for our citizens to ask for the good Lord to comfort those who hurt.”

The White House did not comment yesterday on whether Mr. Bush plans to visit Greensburg or any of the other affected areas.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will come to the White House this morning, and Mr. and Mrs. Bush are hosting a state dinner in the queen’s honor tonight.

The queen will host Mr. and Mrs. Bush for a dinner at the British Embassy tomorrow evening.

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