Washington, Dec 15 (EFE).- The federal government is committed to ensuring the recovery of communities across six states in the southern and midwestern United States that were ravaged last week by tornadoes, President Joe Biden said Wednesday while viewing damage in hard-hit Kentucky.
“I intend to do whatever it takes as long as it takes, as long as it takes to support your state, your local leaders, as you recover and rebuild because you will recover and you will rebuild,” he said in the town of Dawson Springs.
The twisters are blamed for 85 deaths, 71 of them in Kentucky, and Biden described the extent of destruction he saw Wednesday as “almost beyond belief.”
The president arrived in Fort Campbell, a US Army base on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) head Deanne Criswell and Republican Congressman James Comer, who represents much of western Kentucky.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear – like Biden, a Democrat – joined the delegation from Washington on a helicopter tour of Dawson Springs, Princeton and Mayfield, where eight workers at a candle factory died when a tornado reduced the building to rubble.
The president announced that he had updated the original disaster declaration signed on Saturday, expanding from 75 percent to 100 percent the portion of “emergency work” that the federal government will finance for the next 30 days.
FEMA has distributed 61 generators to the affected areas in Kentucky and was ready to deliver 144,000 liters of water, 74,000 meals, 18,500 blankets, 5,100 cots and 1,500 tarps, the White House said.
“You might think that we are broken, but we are not,” Beshear said. “In Kentucky, we’re good people, we love one another, and we lean on one another. We open our homes to those in need, not just today but every day. We will repair our homes, our businesses, and we will repair our lives.”
The governor thanked Biden for calling him repeatedly in the hours following the disaster and for expediting the release of federal funds.
Tennessee has reported four tornado-related fatalities, while the states of Arkansas and Missouri have each reported two deaths. Six people are confirmed dead following the destruction of an Amazon distribution center in Illinois that was in the path of one of the storms. EFE lb/dr