- The Washington Times
Monday, August 8, 2022

President Biden on Monday vowed that the full power of the federal government will help victims of devastating flooding in eastern Kentucky that killed 37 people and destroyed homes and businesses.

Speaking in Lost Creek, Kentucky, Mr. Biden surveyed the flood damage alongside Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and first lady Jill Biden. They met with residents of the area who suffered untold losses, including homes, cars and personal belongings.

“I promise you, we’re staying,” Mr. Biden said. “The federal government, along with the state and the county and the city — we’re staying until everybody’s back to where they were.”

The president, noting his frequent battles with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, emphasized that partisanship has no place in disaster response.

“We battle all the time on issues,” Mr. Biden said. But when it comes to helping Kentucky residents rebuild, he said, “we’re all one team.”

The president’s Kentucky trip comes after he was officially cleared to emerge from isolation since testing negative for COVID-19. He had spent 18 days isolated at the White House following back-to-back cases of the virus, but traveled to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Sunday.

Mr. Biden tested negative on Saturday and Sunday. He did not wear a mask while speaking or standing next to Mr. Beshear or Mrs. Biden.

The president told residents that some of his recent legislative victories, including last year’s bipartisan infrastructure measure, will help them recover from the flood because it creates money for new water lines and other needs.

“We are the only country in the world that has come out of every major disaster stronger than when we went into it,” he said. “We got clobbered going into it, but we came out stronger.”

“The bad news is, I’m coming back because I want to see it,” Mr. Biden joked about returning to view recovery efforts.

So far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided $3.1 million in relief funds to Kentucky flood victims, and hundreds of rescue personnel have been deployed, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

The flooding started on July 26, when 8 to 10.5 inches of rain fell in eastern Kentucky in 48 hours. Flooding remains a threat with more thunderstorms through Thursday, the National Weather Service announced Monday.

Thousands remain displaced after flooding washed away homes. Many also remain without clean water, electricity or other critical supplies. In some neighborhoods where the infrastructure is badly damaged, rescue workers have been able to provide assistance.

Scorching temperatures, humidity and thunderstorms have also frustrated responders.

Monday’s visit is Mr. Biden’s second to Kentucky in less than eight months. He previously visited the state in December after tornadoes devastated the state, killing 77 people and leaving a path of destruction.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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