(NECN: Greg Wayland) - President Barack Obama is getting a first-hand look at the incredible destruction caused by deadly tornadoes down South.
"I've got to say, I've never seen devastation like this."
The words of President Obama -- and this is what the President saw during a driving tour around the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Block upon block of devastation. The next giant step, said the President, would be recovery.
"We've already provided the disaster designations that are required to make sure that the maximum federal help comes here as quickly as possible."
It can't come soon enough for neighborhoods spread over seven states struck by what's being called the deadliest tornado outbreak in U.S. History -- two thirds of it in Alabama.
"It's just gone. It's awesomely devastating," said one woman standing in a landscape of rubble that stretched to the horizon. She was standing on what had been her home.
"It's unreal," said another woman. "It looks like a third-world country or a place that's been strategically hit by war."
Linda Jackson, who lives outside Tuscaloosa, said," we lost everything. The back of our house, part of the church is up in it, and everything is gone and we have nothing."
At one point, the President walked through the ruined neighborhoods with Alabama's governor and the Tuscaloosa mayor, greeting people who, despite all they'd lost, seemed surprised and delighted to see him.
Obama said, "What you're struck by is the people's resilience and the way that the community has come together."
That would include people like Chris Wozniak, who lost his home and narrowly escaped with his life.
"I opened the bathroom door, thinking I'll leave a hatchway out or something -- I just felt, just like in the Wizard of Oz" , the whole front of the house fly away and a Krispy Kreme truck flew right through the living room. "
Obama: "We can't bring those who've been lost back. They're alongside God at this point. We can help maybe a little bit with the families, maybe dealing with the grief of a love one lost. But the property damage which is obviously extensive. That's something that we can do something about. "