US President Joe Biden visited Kentucky affected by the devastating tornado on Wednesday. The natural disaster claimed dozens of lives, and more than 100 people are still missing. Mr. Biden spoke to the residents of the destroyed houses and promised them any support they need from the federal authorities. He also recalled that there is no place for politics in this tragedy, since this misfortune is the same for all Americans, and called on “not to lose faith.” The details are given by a Kommersant correspondent in Washington. Ekaterina Moore.
US President Joe Biden paid an official visit on Wednesday to the state of Kentucky, which was hit hardest by the tornado that struck the southeastern United States on December 10 and 11.
According to updated data published on the website of the television channel WLKY (a television company in Kentucky, affiliated with CBS), as a result of the natural disaster, 74 people died, 12 of them children, 122 people are missing. More than 1,000 buildings have been destroyed, and 24,000 people are left without electricity.
This tornado has already been awarded the fifth highest hazard category by the US Federal Crisis Management Agency (FEMA). According to the TV channel, so far in this area there have been tornadoes of no higher than the third category.
On the eve of the visit of the US President, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that along with Mr. Biden, the head of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mallorcas and the American leader’s party member, Governor of Kentucky Andy Basher, will be inspecting the areas affected by the disaster. Both were already at the scene.
Mr. Biden landed at the Kentucky military airfield – Fort Campbell at about 11 a.m. local time, where Governor Basher was already waiting for him. The first point of visit was Mayfield – the center of the Grace County, where the deaths were the most (21 people). Local government officials briefed the US president there, White House pool reporters from the scene said. According to their testimony, “the damage was significant,” and from the very entrance to the city they were greeted “block by block of destroyed buildings.”
The President walked around the neighborhood and talked with local residents.
In particular, Joe Biden spoke to a woman sitting among a pile of rubble and bricks. The roof of what was once a home is gone – blown away by the wind.
Mr. Biden thanked the representatives of local religious groups who were nearby and actively helping local residents to fight the consequences of the tornado.
In a conversation with the officials who accompanied him, Joe Biden said that what surprised him most was not the destruction, but how people managed to mobilize in the face of the tragedy and work together. He also assured those present that the federal authorities intend to compensate 100% of the damage to the areas affected by the tornado within a month. In general, according to the American leader, in the past year, the damage to the American economy from weather disasters amounted to $ 99 billion.
The US President then traveled to Dawson Springs, Hopkins County, the second worst hit by the tornado. The natural disaster claimed the lives of 17 of its inhabitants and caused a lot of destruction. Thus, the president and his companions saw a family with small children, including a baby.
People stood on the porch and watched the cavalcade of cars passing by. The porch was the only thing left of their house.
The American president, wearing work trousers and boots, no tie and wearing a baseball cap, got out of the car and walked along a small road surrounded by ruined houses, the ruins of which were scattered all over the place. He walked past trees with shreds of insulation hanging from their branches, stopping to talk to the residents who had lost everything and the police officers who were giving them first aid. Communication with the residents of the state took place under the noise of heavy equipment working everywhere, clearing the debris.
The Governor of Kentucky Andy Basher, during his joint speech with the President (quoted by the White House), thanked the American leader for the timely announcement of the state of emergency in his state, which made it possible to quickly mobilize resources.
Mr. Basher said the state has stationed more than 600 National Guard soldiers in 18 affected counties. The soldiers continue to help with the search for the missing, provide assistance to local security forces and emergency response services. Federal services, according to the governor, have already provided the state with the necessary supplies. For example, 144 thousand liters of drinking water, thousands of cots and blankets. Seven temporary shelters have opened in Kentucky, currently housing about 300 people. Although much more victims need help, he said.
In his official speech, which summed up the trip, Mr. Biden promised the residents of the state that he would make sure that they continue to have all the help they need. He wished them to “keep the faith” and noted that such tragedies unite Americans. Since there is no “red” (republican) or “blue” (democratic) tornado and the trouble is the same for all.
“When this starts to happen, there are no red or blue states,” the US President summed up.
Kentucky isn’t the only state affected by the disaster. The consequences of the disaster are being fought in Illinois, where six employees of the Amazon distribution center died, in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. US President Joe Biden, following Kentucky, declared a state of emergency there, too, to enable local authorities to receive emergency assistance from the federal center. Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to Joe Biden and all Americans in connection with the natural disaster.