Biden, FEMA respond to devastating tornadoes

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – As the search for tornado survivors continues in a trail of devastation across the Southeast and Midwest, President Biden is directing resources be surged to areas with the greatest need. He promised immediate federal government assistance to states ravaged by the deadly storms.

President Biden said he directed FEMA to alert governors to all benefits they’re entitled to and to help in every way possible. He’s planning to visit the disaster zone but wants to time it so he won’t hinder recovery efforts. “Whatever is needed, the federal government is going to find a way to supply it,” Biden said.

FEMA is on the ground assessing damage in hard-hit areas.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said, “Housing is going to be a tremendous need as we continue to go forward. Power, water, fuel… all of these things to help the community start their rebuilding process.”

One of the weekend’s tornadoes stayed on the ground for more than 200 miles, ripping through Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky, where National Guard troops are going door to door searching for survivors.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) said, “We’re gonna grieve together. We’re gonna dig out and clean up together. And we will rebuild and  move forward together.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security stressed there will be long-term aid as well as immediate support.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “We are here physically today. But we will be here tomorrow. The days, weeks and months ahead until the recovery is complete.”

As the death toll continues to climb, officials are telling survivors to focus on their families with help pouring in to meet any other need.

Tornadoes this severe are rare in December. President Biden said climate change has made our weather more intense overall but that he couldn’t measure its specific impact from these storms.

FEMA and Homeland Security officials surveyed the damage and will brief the president later Monday morning on their findings.

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