President Joe Biden and the first lady are expected to join Governor Andy Beshear and his wife, Britain, as they meet with families and review the damage from storms that caused the worst flooding in Kentucky history.
At least 37 people have died since last month’s flood, which dropped 8 to 10 1/2 inches of rain in just 48 hours. The National Weather Service said on Sunday that flooding remains a threat, warning of more thunderstorms through Thursday.
Biden’s visit on Monday will be the country’s second. He previously visited in December after tornadoes swept through Kentucky, killing 77 people and leaving a trail of destruction.
Bashir recently said, “I hope to tell you why we keep getting beaten up here in Kentucky. I hope to tell you why areas where people don’t suffer as much keep getting hit and lose everything. I can’t tell you why, but I know what we do in response.” And the answer is all we can. These are our people. Let’s make sure we help them.”
Biden has expanded federal disaster assistance to Kentucky, ensuring that the federal government covers the full cost of debris removal and other emergency measures.
White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided more than $3.1 million in relief funds, and hundreds of rescue personnel have been deployed to help.
The flooding came just a month after Bashir visited Mayfield to celebrate the completion of the first fully built homes since the hurricane that nearly wiped out the city. Three families were handed the keys to their new homes that day, and the governor listened in his remarks to his visit in the immediate aftermath.
“I vowed that day that while we were defeated, we were not,” Bashir said. “That we will come back again and we will move forward. Six months from today, we are not only awake, we are not only on our feet, we are moving forward.”
Now more disasters are testing the state. Bashir has gone as far as eastern Kentucky as weather permits since the floods began. He had daily hour-long press conferences to provide details including a full range of assistance to victims. Largely after hurricanes, Bashir unlocked relief money that goes directly to people in besieged areas.
Bashir, a Democrat, narrowly defeated a Republican lawmaker in 2019, and is seeking a second term in 2023.
Polling has consistently shown that it has strong approval ratings from Kentucky residents. But several prominent Republicans entered the governor’s race, taking turns for governor over his aggressive response to the pandemic and trying to link him to Biden and rising inflation.
Bashir often comments on the rising toll of eating inflation on Kentucky budgets. He avoids blaming Biden, instead citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supply chain bottlenecks as contributors to rising consumer costs.
Schreiner reports from Frankfurt, Kentucky.