President Obama said Tuesday that he will visit the tornado zone in Missouri on Sunday, the day he returns from his tour in Europe.
"I myself will travel to Missouri to talk with folks who've been affected, to talk to local officials about our response effort and hopefully to pray with folks and give them whatever assurance and comfort I can that the entire country is going to be behind them," said Obama, who is currently in England.
The EF4 massive tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., Sunday, killing at least 116 people. It was the deadliest tornado in the U.S. in 60 years. Hundreds are injured and an unknown number of people are missing.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said early this morning that authorities are searching for survivors who may be buried in debris.
"We still believe there are people out there alive," Nixon said outside St. John’s Regional Medical Center.
Obama remarked, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are suffering at this moment. And all we can do is let them know that all of America cares deeply about them and that we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure that they recover."
The Joplin tornado landed around 6 p.m. on May 22.
Forecasters predicted Monday that violent storms could strike the Plain States Tuesday. Residents in Kansas, Oklahoma, northern Texas and western Missouri should closely watch the weather, they warned.
“This is a very serious situation that’s brewing and it is possible, if not likely, that we’ll be moving to our highest alert status sometime during the next 12 to 24 hours as we gather more information,” said Russell Schneider, director of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.
Obama underscored in his speech the need for Americans in affected areas to "heed storm warnings and take the lead of your local officials."
The president pledged to help with the relief and recovery efforts in Missouri, Minnesota and the Midwest, adding that he has already sent FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy Administrator Rich Serino to Missouri to work with local and federal officials.
"We are here for you," assured the president.
"The American people are by your side. We're going to stay there until every home is repaired, until every neighborhood is rebuilt, until every business is back on its feet. That's my commitment, and that's the American people's commitment."