United States: US President Joe Biden pledged increased federal assistance to Kentucky on Wednesday as he surveyed the damage in tornado-ravaged towns and consoled survivors of the twisters that took scores of lives.
“The scope and scale of this destruction is almost beyond belief,” the 79-year-old president said after visiting the towns of Mayfield and Dawson Springs.
“These tornadoes devoured almost everything in their path,” he said in Dawson Springs in western Kentucky. “Your homes, your businesses, your houses of worship, your dreams, your lives.”
Biden said the federal government would foot 100 per cent of the bill for emergency relief for the next 30 days and will continue to do “whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.”
Biden, who has made empathy one of his trademarks, strolled down a ruined street in Mayfield, stopping to chat and shake the hand of a woman who was seated in the rubble of a collapsed building.
Wearing a baseball cap and a dark blue suit with no tie, the president paused in the street at one point and bowed his head in prayer with the town’s mayor and several other people.
Before touring Mayfield, a town of some 10,000 people, and Dawson Springs, population 2,500, Biden received a briefing on the damage from last week’s tornadoes, which killed at least 74 people in Kentucky and 14 in surrounding states.
“There’s no red tornadoes, there’s no blue tornadoes,” the Democratic president said in a reference to the colors of the nation’s two largest political parties — the red of Republicans and the blue of Democrats.
Andy Beshear, the Kentucky governor, is a Democrat, but Kentuckians voted overwhelmingly for Republican candidate Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
In addition to federal aid, more than 500 National Guard troops have been deployed to help with law enforcement, traffic control and recovery, along with volunteers and associations on the ground to support victims.