President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that the federal government would cover 100% of the cost of Kentucky's initial recovery efforts, making the announcement after he toured damage caused by devastating tornadoes last week.

Biden said his administration will pay for the first 30 days of cleanup and emergency services following a request from the state's governor, Andy Beshear. The funding will include payment for things like debris removal, cost of overtime, law enforcement, emergency service personnel and shelter, the president said. 

What You Need To Know

  • President Joe Biden traveled to Kentucky on Wednesday to survey storm damage caused by devastating tornadoes
  • He announced the federal government would cover 100% of the funding 
  • Biden arrived in Fort Campbell and surveyed damage in Mayfield and Dawson Springs

  • At least 74 people were killed in Kentucky, the state's Gov. Andy Beshear said 

At least 74 people across the state were killed in the storms, Gov. Beshear said.

"It's our turn to help the entire town to heal," Biden said Wednesday from Dawson Springs, Ky. 

"I intend to do whatever it takes, as long as it takes to support your state," he added. "You will recover and you will rebuild."

President Biden said the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) had donated more than 60 generators and the federal government had provided 74,000 meals and thousands of cots and blankets. 

Gov. Beshear — whose family is from Dawson Springs — was emotional as he spoke about the impact on his state.

"You might think that we are broken, but we are not. In Kentucky, we are good people," he said. "We love one another and we lean on one another."

And he praised President Biden for his focus on Kentucky in the days since Friday night's storms, noting he had received three personal calls from the White House in the first 24 hours.

Biden on Wednesday stressed to state and local officials that the federal government would continue to help for weeks and months down the line through programs that can fall outside emergency services. 

“There may be things available that will be helpful six weeks, six months from now that you're unaware of,” he said at a briefing in Mayfield earlier Wednesday. “I've instructed my team to make you all aware of everything that is available from the federal level.”

All told, 88 people were killed across five states as a spate of tornadoes ravaged the Midwest and South late last week.

Gov. Beshear said cleanup crews were beginning to haul debris out of town after having cleared roads first.

"Now some it feels pretty therapeutic," he told the president. "A little bit of that chaos, devastation, death out of town."

Biden first arrived in Fort Campbell, Kentucky on Wednesday morning and then surveyed the damage in Mayfield via an aerial tour.



The trip was announced around the same time Biden was briefed on the deadly storms by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at the White House on Monday.

During the meeting, Biden said that "we've asked FEMA and the key departments that surge federal resources and the things they most need – power, water, communications systems – to get back to some sense of being able to communicate with each other as rapidly as they possibly can."

Biden said that "we can’t say it was with absolute certainty” that the tornadoes were caused by climate change – the twisters occured at a time of year when tornadoes are uncommon due to colder weather – but added that it “certainly is one of the worst disasters.”

President Biden approved a major disaster declaration overnight Sunday to make federal funds available to areas impacted by the severe weather.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., thanked President Biden for his administration’s “quick work to speed resources to help deal with this crisis.”

Kentucky was the worst hit by the group of twisters that devastated multiple states on Friday night. At least 14 other people were killed in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee.