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‘I promise you, we’re not leaving.’ Biden tours eastern Kentucky flood damage

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President Biden spoke during his visit Monday to Lost Creek, Ky.

President Joe Biden says the federal government is committed to helping eastern Kentucky recover after flooding devastated the region, killing at least 37 people and ruining homes, businesses and infrastructure.

The president and First Lady Jill Biden surveyed damage left by the catastrophe along with Gov. Andy Beshear and 5th district Congressman Hal Rogers on Monday.

During remarks at Marie Roberts-Caney Elementary School in Lost Creek, Biden called the scenes of loss “heartbreaking.”

“You look at those creeks and streams that are now running brown and to see from the helicopter to see automobiles. Everything from buses, to automobiles to homes. Literally in the middle of the water, side of the road. And you say to yourself, ‘what in God’s name happened?’”

This is the second time Biden has visited Kentucky in less than a year to extend condolences after a massive weather-related tragedy. He visited Mayfield, Dawson Springs and other tornado-ravaged communities in the wake of the December 10 tornado outbreak.

Biden blamed the events on climate change.

“As you all know, we have suffered the consequence of climate change with a significant number of weather catastrophes across the nation, just in the year and a half I’ve been president,” he said Monday.

Biden praised the emergency response, including FEMA, which currently has more than 700 federal emergency officials on the ground in the region trying to help people displaced by the flood.

He emphasized that people put politics aside and help each other in the wake of disasters.

“When I got elected I promised to be, and it’s not hyperbole, the president for all America. There really is no red or blue when it comes to these states. People are people. They need help,” Biden said.

At least 37 people have died as a result of the flooding so far.

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.