Biden Inspects Flood Damage in Kentucky and Promises Additional US Assistance!
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Monday witnessed the damage from deadly and devastating storms that have resulted in the worst flooding in Kentucky’s history, as they visited the state to meet with families and first responders.
At least 37 people have died since last month’s deluge, which dropped 8 to 10-1/2 inches of rain in only 48 hours. Gov. Andy Beshear told Biden that authorities expect to add at least one other death to the total. The National Weather Service said Sunday that flooding remains a threat, warning of more thunderstorms through Thursday.
The president said the nation has an obligation to help all its people, declaring the federal government would provide support until residents were back on their feet. Behind him, as he spoke was a single-story house that the storm had dislodged and then left littered on the ground, tilted sideways.
“We have the capacity to do this — it’s not like it’s beyond our control,” Biden said. “We’re staying until everybody’s back to where they were.”
In the heat and humidity of the summer, Biden’s button-down shirt was soaked with sweat. He paced around with a microphone in his hand and said he would come back once the community was fixed.
“The bad news for you is I’m coming back because I want to see it,” the president said.
The Bidens were greeted warmly by Beshear and his wife, Britainy when they arrived in eastern Kentucky. They immediately drove to see devastation from the storms in Breathitt County, stopping at the site of where a school bus, carried by floodwaters, was crashed into a partially collapsed building.
Beshear said the flooding was “unlike anything we’ve ever seen” in the state and credited Biden with swiftly approving federal assistance.
He praised responders who “have moved heaven and earth to get where we are, what, about nine days from when this hit,” he said.
At Marie Roberts Elementary School in Lost Creek, Biden met with first responders and recovery experts for a briefing on the effects of the flooding. He told a group of Kentucky leaders that he would do whatever was needed to help.
“I promise you, if it’s legal, we’ll do it,” he said. “And if it’s not legal, we’ll figure out how to change the law.”
The president said that politics have no place in disaster relief, and he used the fact that he often fights with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to make his point. Biden said, “We fight about issues all the time, but when it comes to helping Kentuckians rebuild, we’re all on the same team.”
This is Biden’s second trip to the state since he became Vice President last year. He had been there before, in December, after 77 people were killed and a lot of damage was done by tornadoes in Kentucky.
“I wish I could tell you why we keep getting hit here in Kentucky,” Beshear said recently. “I wish I could tell you why areas where people may not have much continue to get hit and lose everything. I can’t give you the why, but I know what we do in response to it. And the answer is everything we can. These are our people. Let’s make sure we help them out.”
Biden has expanded federal disaster assistance to Kentucky, ensuring the federal government will cover the full cost of debris removal and other emergency measures.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided more than $3.1 million in relief funds, and hundreds of rescue personnel have been deployed to help.
“The floods in Kentucky and extreme weather all around the country are yet another reminder of the intensifying and accelerating impacts of climate change and the urgent need to invest in making our communities more resilient to it,” she said.
Just one month before the flooding, the governor of Kentucky went to Mayfield to celebrate the completion of the first fully built houses since a tornado almost wiped out the town. On that day, three families got the keys to their new homes, and when the governor spoke, he talked about a visit he had made right afterward.
More disasters are now putting the state to the test. Since the flooding began, Beshear has been to eastern Kentucky as many times as the weather has let him. He has held news conferences every day for an hour to give victims information and a wide range of ways to help.
A Democrat, Beshear narrowly defeated a Republican incumbent in 2019, and he’s seeking a second term in 2023.
Polls have shown over and over again that Kentuckians like him a lot. But a number of well-known Republicans have jumped into the race for governor. They take turns criticizing the governor for his quick response to the pandemic and trying to link him to Vice President Joe Biden and rising inflation.
Beshear comments frequently about the toll surging inflation is taking in eating at Kentuckians’ budgets. He has avoided blaming the president, instead pointing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supply chain bottlenecks as contributors to rising consumer costs.
Schreiner reported from Frankfort, Kentucky and Megerian reported from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.