Biden tours devastation left by Kentucky floods, vows to rebuild 'better'

·Senior Writer
·3 min read

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to eastern Kentucky on Monday to tour the damage from last month's deadly flooding and to visit with families who were negatively affected by the extreme rainfall.

At least 37 people have died as a result of the late-July storms, which dropped nearly a foot of rain in some areas in just 48 hours.

"We're staying until everybody's back to where they were," Biden said of the federal response after meeting with residents of the town of Lost Creek. "Not a joke."

The president said recently passed bipartisan legislation will allow for rebuilding that will leave the flood-torn communities better prepared for extreme weather than they were before.

President Biden and Jill Biden talk to people outside of homes damaged by flooding in Kentucky.
President Biden meets with residents affected by the deadly flooding in Lost Creek, Ky., on Monday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

"That's the objective here," the president said. "It's not just to get back to where we were, it's to get back to better than where we were. And we have the wherewithal to do it now."

Biden said he met a man whose trailer was washed away in the floodwaters. He said the man told him, "We Kentuckians don't want to ask for too much."

"I don’t want any Kentuckian telling me, 'You don't have to do this for me,'" Biden added. "Oh, yeah, we do. You're an American citizen. We never give up. We never stop. We never bow. We never bend. We just go forward. And that’s what we’re going to do here."

President Biden speaks while people stand around him and a flood-damaged home is seen in the background.
Biden speaks after touring a neighborhood damaged by flooding in Lost Creek, Ky., on Monday. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Before delivering remarks, Biden toured the devastation with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, in hard-hit Breathitt County, stopping at the site where a school bus was swept by floodwaters into a partially collapsed building.

"Those are pieces of everybody's houses," Beshear told Biden as they observed debris along the creek. "That's all that's left."

[Also read: How to help victims of Kentucky floods]

At a briefing with first responders at an elementary school in Lost Creek, Biden pledged the continued support of the federal government.

Within a day of the floods, a major disaster declaration was made for Kentucky and federal aid was ordered to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

"We're not leaving," Biden said. "As long as it takes, we're going to be here."

President Biden, first lady Jill Biden and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear tour flood damage in Kentucky.
President Biden, first lady Jill Biden and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in Lost Creek, Ky. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Biden said that politics has no place in his administration's disaster response, even in a state that's home to his frequent political adversary, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"We battle all the time on issues," Biden said. But when it comes to rebuilding, the president said, "we're all one team."

Biden's visit to Kentucky is his second to the state since taking office last year. He traveled there in December after a series of tornadoes killed 77 people.

And just as he did Monday, Biden sought then to push a message of unity in a deep red state.

"There's no red tornadoes and blue tornadoes," he said at the time.