Biden pledges ‘whatever it takes’ to assist tornado victims

Dec 14, 2021, 7:20 AM | Updated: Dec 16, 2021, 5:26 am
President Joe Biden meets with people as he surveys storm damage from tornadoes and extreme weather...

President Joe Biden meets with people as he surveys storm damage from tornadoes and extreme weather in Mayfield, Ky., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday pledged to do “whatever it takes, as long as it takes” to help Kentucky and other states after a series of deadly tornadoes that he said left a trail of unimaginable devastation. “You will recover and rebuild,” he said.

“The scope and scale of this destruction is almost beyond belief,” he said as he stood before a home reduced to a few walls and piles of rubble in Dawson Springs, one of two Kentucky towns he visited.

Biden spoke of the stress felt by victims of natural disasters such as the weekend storms that swept across eight states and said it was urgent that people be moved from emergency shelters in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, the president praised the outpouring of support from reeling communities and said the federal support he has committed will keep flowing.

“Something good has to come out of this,” Biden said. “In so many places, destruction was met with compassion.”

More than 30 tornadoes tore through Kentucky and seven other states over the weekend, killing at least 88 people. Thousands of residents have lost their houses or are without power.

“I intend to do whatever it takes as long as it takes to support your state, your local leaders, as you recover and rebuild, and you will recover and rebuild,” Biden said.

In Dawson Springs, Biden walked through mounds of debris. Shattered Christmas decorations were tangled up with shards of furniture and strewn clothing. Trees were uprooted among homes reduced to rubble. Over the sounds of heavy machinery engaged in cleanup just blocks away, the president stopped to speak with storms victims, including a young girl clutching an American flag.

Biden came over to a family sitting before a home without a roof or windows, and also spoke to a group of police officers. He offered hugs to an older couple. And at one point he joked with woman wearing Green Bay Packers apparel that she should tell star NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers that “he’s gotta get the vaccine” — a reference to Rodgers’ stand against the COVID-19 shot.

Earlier, in Mayfield, the president held hands in prayer with Graves County Executive Jesse Perry and a pastor. A family that had gathered in front of a destroyed home talked with Biden, who told reporters he was “impressed how everybody is working together” on the recovery. On Mayfield’s main street, Biden spoke with two women in a shattered building. They had a sign that said, “God is good. Beaten but not defeated.”

Biden also took an aerial tour of the damage and held a briefing with officials in an airport hangar. “I’m here to listen,” he said. This kind of tragedy, Biden said, “either brings people together or it knocks them apart.”

He added, “There’s no red tornadoes and blue tornadoes.”

Despite the president’s push for unity in the face of disaster, his visit to the strongly Republican county, which Donald Trump won by a nearly 4-to-1 margin in 2020 — brought out some detractors. Scattered protesters offered up “Let’s go Brandon” chants, used by some conservatives to represent a more vulgar epithet against the president, as Biden arrived.

But Biden’s stop was met with optimism by many residents, who said they hoped the president would help get their communities back on their feet.

“I want to see if he’s going to help individuals who have been affected by this,” said Michelle Anderson, 68, who took cover in her bathtub with her cat when the tornado ripped the roof off the second floor of her apartment building in Mayfield. “I hope he does.”

While congressional business kept him in Washington during the tour, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leader has spoken about his appreciation for Biden’s response to the disaster. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she is talking to Kentucky lawmakers about what’ is needed for the state — a nod to a possible disaster relief bill with supplemental funds for recovery.

Across the United States, it’s been a year marked by a notable increase in extreme weather occurrences driven primarily by climate change. Only a month after he was sworn into office, Biden went to Houston to survey the damage wrought by a historic storm. He was in Idaho, Colorado and California to survey wildfire damage during the summer. After Hurricane Ida struck, Biden went to Louisiana as well as New Jersey and New York in September.

The disasters have offered Biden evidence of what he says is the pressing need for America to do more to combat climate change and prepare for future disasters — a case he made to help push for passage of his spending proposals.

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill, signed into law last month, includes billions for climate resilience projects aimed to better defend people and property from future storms, wildfires and other natural disasters. His proposed $2 trillion social spending package, still pending in Congress, includes billions more to help shift the nation away from oil, gas and coal and toward widespread clean energy and electric vehicle use.

The White House has spent much of the week engaging with lawmakers on the latter. Biden talked with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a key Democratic holdout, in hopes of smoothing over some of his issues in time to pass a package before year’s end.

Five tornadoes hit Kentucky, including one with an extraordinarily long path of about 200 miles (322 kilometers), authorities said.

Besides the deaths in Kentucky, the 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 shielded residents with their own bodies; and two in Missouri.

___

Associated Press writers Sean Murphy and Bruce Schreiner in Mayfield, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Washington kills 2 wolves to prevent preying on cattle

Biologists working for Washington have killed two members of the Leadpoint wolf pack this week in an effort to stop the pack from preying on cattle
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Judge rules against Abrams group in voting rights lawsuit

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge on Friday found that Georgia election practices challenged by a group associated with Democrat Stacey Abrams do not violate the constitutional rights of voters, ruling in favor of the state on all remaining issues in a lawsuit filed nearly four years ago. “Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, […]
16 hours ago
Island residents walk around the downtown area on the island of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Sep...
Associated Press

Supply chain issues could slow fix of Florida electric grid

Crews are beginning to repair — and in some cases, rebuild — Florida’s power grid after the state was pummeled by Hurricane Ian. Florida Power & Light says it stockpiled enough poles, generators and wire to do the work. But power-industry officials warn that kinks in the nation’s supply chain could slow the recovery if […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. __ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.; Gov. Roy Cooper, D-N.C.; NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. __ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Criswell, Scott; Kevin Anderson, mayor of Fort Myers, Florida; former national […]
16 hours ago
President Joe Biden, third from left, speaks as he poses for photos with Pacific Island leaders on ...
Associated Press

Biden uses $130M in frozen Egypt aid to help Pacific Islands

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration will pay for $130 million in new climate initiatives for Pacific Island nations by reallocating money that had originally been earmarked for military assistance for Egypt but withheld because of concerns over human rights abuses. The State Department said it planned to reprogram money allotted for Egypt to pay […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Officials: North Korea fires suspected ballistic missiles

TOKYO (AP) — North Korea has fired suspected ballistic missiles, the Japanese Defense Ministry said Saturday. Further details are still being analyzed, ministry officials said. Japanese media reported that the missiles are believed to have landed in the Sea of Japan. Saturday’s firing is the latest of North Korea’s escalating missile launches and a third […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Biden pledges ‘whatever it takes’ to assist tornado victims