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Biden touring US state of Kentucky after slew of deadly tornadoes | Climate News


More than 30 tornadoes tore through Kentucky and neighbouring states over the weekend, killing a least 88 people.

US President Joe Biden is touring Kentucky to survey the damage and offer his condolences after deadly tornadoes ripped through the state, killing dozens of people and leaving thousands more without heat, water or electricity.

Biden on Wednesday landed at an army installation at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and boarded a helicopter to assess the devastation.

He is later heading to Mayfield and Dawson Springs – two towns that were largely flattened by the twisters – and was also expected to meet community leaders and promise more federal funds to rebuild devastated communities.

More than 30 tornadoes tore through Kentucky and at least four other states in the central United States over the weekend, killing a least 88 people and demolishing homes, downing power lines and cutting off residents from key utilities as temperatures dropped below freezing point.

Consecutive natural disasters this year have offered President Joe Biden urgent evidence of what he says is the dire need for the US to do more to combat climate change [Cheney Orr/Reuters]

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Mayfield, one of the hardest-hit towns, on Wednesday morning said “destruction stretches as far as the eye can see” downtown.

“This is one of many communities that were simply levelled by this disaster,” said Zhou-Castro, adding that Biden was expected to meet survivors of the deadly storms.

“There have been so many stories of heroism … People running into the rubble, fishing out neighbours, families and friends. The way that this community has come together in the wake of this tragedy has been remarkable, with volunteers coming in from all parts of the state and surrounding areas,” she reported.

Biden’s trip to Kentucky comes after a year marked by a notable uptick in extreme weather occurrences that scientists say were driven primarily by climate change.

Shortly after taking office, Biden went to Houston to survey the damage wrought by last winter’s historic storm there. Over the summer, he travelled to Idaho, Colorado and California to survey wildfire damage. Later, he went to Louisiana, New Jersey and New York after Hurricane Ida tore through the area.

The disasters have offered Biden urgent evidence of what he says is the dire need for the US to do more to combat climate change and prepare for future disasters.

Last month, Biden signed into law a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that included billions for climate resilience projects aimed to better defend people and property from future storms, wildfires and other natural disasters.

Meanwhile, back in Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear said earlier this week that a dozen children, the youngest of whom was a two-month-old infant, were among the storm-linked deaths.

He said on Tuesday that he expected the death toll to rise in the coming days, while more than 100 people were still missing.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has sent search-and-rescue and emergency response teams to Kentucky, along with teams to help survivors register for assistance, the White House said.

The president has approved two federal disaster declarations for Kentucky and the neighbouring states of Tennessee and Illinois, providing federal aid for search and rescue and clean-up operations, as well as aid for temporary housing and to help individuals and businesses recover.

Biden said earlier this week that the federal government is committed to providing whatever the affected states need in the aftermath of the storms.

“We’re going to get this done,” he said during a White House briefing. “We’re going to be there as long as it takes to help.”





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