President Biden described the “heartbreaking” devastation in Kentucky in a trip to survey damage from floods that have killed nearly two dozen people, suggesting the natural disaster was related to climate change.
Biden landed in Kentucky on Monday to survey the flooding that killed at least 37 people last week. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are meeting with Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and touring the devastation throughout the afternoon.
During an open press briefing, Biden brought up climate change as a cause of many disasters that have occurred since he took office.
“As you all know, we’ve suffered a consequence of climate change, a significant number of other catastrophes around the nation. Just in the year and a half I’ve been the president I know over thousands of acres of forests are burning. More forests have burned down in the West than the entire state of New Jersey, New York, all the way down to the Delmarva peninsula,” said Biden.
The president praised first responders and a rapid state, government and local response to the crisis and recounted the “heartbreaking” stories of families whose homes were destroyed and lives ripped apart.
KENTUCKY FLOODING DEVASTATION ‘NOTHING LIKE I’D EVER SEEN BEFORE,’ WOLFE COUNTY SEARCH AND RESCUE CHIEF SAYS
He said: “And Jill and I are grateful for the first responders, and the National Guard, for what you do. You know, I think the first responders at least up until not too long were kind of taken for granted around the country. Not now, after Covid and some of the other things.
“And you think of how incredibly heartbreaking it is that people– as you look at those creeks and streams that are now running brown. And you see from the helicopter, you see, automobiles, everything from buses to automobiles to homes, literally in the middle of the water on the side of the road. And you think to yourself, what in God’s name happened to those 37 now? Thirty-eight people who are dead, you know, and you hear about the grandmother and granddaughter climb 16 hours to get out of the way and ended up in trouble.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also stated that the flooding is yet another sign that climate change is exacerbating natural disasters during a press gaggle en route to the commonwealth.
Beshear has deployed more than 400 National Guardsman to the affected region. Victims who lost their homes have had little respite in the days since, with the state suffering 100-degree weather and skyrocketing humidity.
So far, first responders have rescued some 1,300 people amid the debris of washed-away towns.
Biden declared the flooding a federal disaster last week, giving the state access to federal resources to pay for rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.