On a mournful mission, President Bush climbed over piles of concrete, roofing, insulation, broken glass and textbooks that littered Enterprise High School, battered by a tornado that killed eight students.
Down hallway three, lined by blue lockers, Mr. Bush went in private, the corridor where the students died and scores more were trapped in Thursday's storm. The President also saw the wing -- now just rubble -- where students had hunkered down as the tornado approached. "A hundred kids got out of here alive, which is a miracle," Mr. Bush said.
Before visiting the school, Mr. Bush got a bird's-eye view of the tornado damage in Enterprise as his Marine One helicopter followed the storm's extensive path. The President told Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell after the aerial tour, quoting: "You can never heal a heart, but you can provide comfort knowing that the federal government will provide help for those whose houses were destroyed or automobiles were destroyed."
Mr. Bush has designated Coffee County as a disaster area, releasing millions of dollars in federal aid for recovery and individual assistance. At the airport, Bush commented: "This storm is a tough storm. Went eight miles and affected a lot of lives." He added: "This country is a prayerful country. A lot of people praying for you."
State education officials are working on a plan to relocate Enterprise High School students. State Superintendent Dr. Joe Morton says he's working with Enterprise-Ozark Community College to provide temporary space to house the high school which was destroyed by Thursday's tornado. Morton says 15 trailer classrooms also are available. Morton says students will benefit from being back together as a community. And, he says, "Sooner is better than later, and we will also be putting together a counseling team."
If you live in Coffee County and need federal help, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA.
WSFA 12 News was the only station in town to provide you live coverage of President Bush's visit to Enterprise on Saturday.