A deadly tornado outbreak in Kentucky prompted President Joe Biden to approve an emergency declaration for the state Saturday after storms and tornadoes ripped through the state, leaving destruction and death behind.
Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the tornadoes, that tore through western Kentucky overnight, are likely the “most severe tornado[s] outbreak in our state’s history.” Beshear along with two Kentucky senators and six representatives requested an emergency disaster declaration from the president.
“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Breckenridge, Bullitt, Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Grayson, Hickman, Hopkins, Lyon, Meade, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Shelby, Spencer, and Warren,” the White House announced on Saturday.
Biden talked about the emergency declaration during remarks on Saturday afternoon and how those in the area might feel the in the wake of the tragedy. He said that he intends to visit Kentucky, but doesn’t want to impede ongoing rescue efforts.
“Well, we’ll see,” Biden responded when asked if he’ll ask Congress to approve other disaster relief funds. “Whatever is needed, I’m gonna ask for, if we don’t already have the wherewithal to take care of it, I’m gonna ask for it. This is the United States of America. Our citizens are badly, badly hurt and they’re scared to death right now, in terms of all those folks who they can’t figure where they are. ‘Where’s my son, where’s my daughter, my husband, my wife, my mom, my dad?’ It’s devastating.”
Beshear said at this time the death toll is “north of 70” and “may in fact end up exceeding 100 before the day is done.” The emergency declaration, Biden explained, will “accelerate federal emergency assistance for Kentucky.”
“This is likely to be one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history,” Biden said, saying the storms moved across multiple states. “Earlier today, I called the governors of the states that had experienced severe impacts from the storms, including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, as well as Tennessee. Also spoke with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Governor Beshear and I started off the morning together and he said, as I was watching on television while talking to him like all of you have, and his comment was ‘it looks like a war zone. But worse.'”
“The federal government will do everything, everything it can possibly do to help,” Biden vowed.