President Joe Biden and the first lady are expected to join Gov. Andy Beshear and his wife Briton to meet family members and review the damage caused by the storm that caused the worst flooding in Kentucky’s history.
At least 37 people have died since last month’s floods, which brought 8 to 10 1/2 inches of rain in just 48 hours. Flooding remains a threat, the National Weather Service said on Sunday, and warned of more thunderstorms on Thursday.
Monday’s visit will be Biden’s second to the state. He visited in December after a tornado swept through Kentucky, killing 77 people and leaving a trail of devastation.
“I wish I could tell you why we keep getting hit in Kentucky,” Beshear said recently. “I wish I could tell you why areas where people probably don’t have much continue to be hit and lose everything. I can’t tell you why, but I know what we’re going to do in response to it. The answer is all we can do. These It’s our people. Let’s make sure to help them.”
Biden has expanded federal disaster assistance to Kentucky, ensuring the federal government will cover the full cost of debris removal and other emergency measures.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided more than $3.1 million in relief funds and has deployed hundreds of rescuers to help.
The flooding came just a month after Beshear visited Mayfield to celebrate the completion of the first fully-built homes since a tornado nearly destroyed the town. Three families were given the keys to their new homes that day, and the governor, in his speech, recalled the visit he made immediately afterwards.
“I pledged that day that while we were knocked down, we weren’t knocked down,” Beshear said. “We’re going to stand up again, we’re going to keep going. Today, six months later, we’re not just standing up, we’re not just standing up, we’re moving forward.”
More disasters are now testing the country. Since the flooding began, Beshear has made several trips to eastern Kentucky, weather permitting. He holds hour-long press conferences every day, providing details including comprehensive assistance for victims. Just like after a tornado, Beshear opened a relief fund that goes directly to people in distressed areas.
As a Democrat, Beshear narrowly defeated the Republican incumbent in 2019 and is seeking a second term in 2023.
Polls have consistently shown him strong approval ratings among Kentuckians. But some prominent Republicans have joined the gubernatorial race, taking turns slamming the governor’s aggressive response to the pandemic and trying to tie him to Biden and rising inflation.
Beshear has often commented that soaring inflation is eating into Kentucky’s budget. He avoided blaming Biden, instead pointing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supply chain bottlenecks as contributing to higher costs for consumers.
Schreiner reported from Frankfurt, Kentucky.