(RAINSVILLE, Al.) -- President Obama and the first lady will travel to the South Friday morning, following the deadly storms Wednesday and early Thursday that left more than 300 dead across six states.
Obama will visit the hardest-hit state, Alabama, where at least 210 people were killed.
Elsewhere in the region, Mississippi reported 32 fatalities, Tennessee had 34, Georgia reported at least 15, Virginia had five and Arkansas had 13.
"In a matter of hours, these deadly tornadoes...took mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, even entire communities," Obama said Thursday.
Obama is expected to tour the wreckage while on his way to Cape Canaveral for the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour in Florida.
He pledged full federal government support for all those affected by the storms and signed a disaster declaration for Alabama to assist in recovery and clean-up efforts.
"We can't control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it," Obama said during a press conference Thursday at the White House.
About 2,000 national guard members have been deployed to help in search and rescue efforts.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated there were 173 tornadoes Wednesday, setting a new record for one storm system.
The twisters leveled cities like Tuscaloosa, Alabama and forced some nuclear plants to go offline. Thousands were left and more than a million people without power.
It was the worst tornado outbreak since 1974, when storms killed 315 people, according to NOAA. The death toll from this week's storms is expected to exceed that number.
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