Biden went to Kentucky to study the damages and offer federal support to the victims of the devastating tornadoes that killed dozens and left thousands more in the region without heat, water and electricity.
More than 30 tornadoes struck Kentucky and at least four other states over the weekend, killing at least 88 people and demolishing houses, knocking down power lines and cutting off key utility residents as temperatures dropped below freezing in Kentucky earlier this week.
Biden will visit Fort Campbell for a briefing on the storm and Mayfield and Dawson Springs to inspect the damage caused by the storm. While Biden is expected to speak, he is not the focus of the trip. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president will meet with storm victims and local officials to provide federal support.
Biden “wants to listen directly to people and wants to offer their support directly,” Psaki said.
Jeff and Tara Wilson, a married couple from Mayfield, were at the Graves County Fairgrounds Tuesday, where a distribution center was set up to distribute food, water and clothing to storm victims. They were setting up a mobile site for storm victims to receive counseling and said their home was unharmed.
When asked about the president’s visit and the reception he will receive in this prominently Republican region, Tara Wilson replied: “I dont know. I believe that as long as everyone’s hearts are in the right place, we should not focus on politics at this time.”
She said it was “a very positive thing” that Biden was visiting, and she and her husband expressed hope that the president could help bring the community together.
“This place is like a bomb has been thrown at it. And everyone should come together,” said Wilson. “So far that is what is happening. You’re seeing everyone come together.”
Biden’s trip to Kentucky comes to the close of a year marked by a notable spike in extreme weather events driven primarily by climate change. Just a month after being sworn in, Biden went to Houston to inspect the damage from last winter’s historic storm there.
Finally, he traveled to Idaho, Colorado and California to study the damage caused by wildfires during the summer, as well as Louisiana, New Jersey and New York earlier this fall after Hurricane Ida struck the region.
The disasters have provided Biden with urgent and visceral evidence of what he says is the urgent need for the United States to do more to combat climate change and prepare for future disasters, a case he brought to help drive approval of his proposals. of expenses.
The $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill, enacted last month, includes billions for climate resilience projects aimed at better defending people and property from future storms, wildfires and other natural disasters.
His proposed $ 2 trillion social spending package, which is still pending in Congress, includes billions more to help shift the nation away from oil, gas and coal toward the widespread use of clean energy and electric vehicles. .
The White House has spent much of the week interacting with lawmakers about the latter. Biden spoke with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a senior Democratic opponent, hoping to fix some of his problems in time to pass a package before the end of the year.
But on Wednesday, Biden’s focus will be squarely on Kentucky. Five tornadoes struck the state, including one with an extraordinarily long path of about 200 miles (322 kilometers), authorities said.
In addition to the deaths in Kentucky, tornadoes also killed at least six people in Illinois, where the Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville was hit; four in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed and the governor said workers protected residents with their own bodies; and two in Missouri.
The president signed two federal disaster declarations for Kentucky over the weekend, providing federal aid for search, rescue and cleanup operations, as well as temporary housing assistance and helping individuals and businesses recover.
Biden said earlier this week during a briefing at the White House on the tragedy with Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, and other top emergency response officials, that the federal government is committed to providing whatever it takes. affected states need after the storm.
“We’re going to do this,” Biden said. “We will be there as long as it takes to help.”
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