President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to flood-ravaged Kentucky Monday to visit families affected by the recent devastating floods that killed at least 37 people and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses as Christian charities are on the ground to meet the needs of the victims.
According to the White House, the Bidens visited "families affected by the devastation from recent flooding and survey recovery efforts" at one of the region's Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster recovery centers.
The flooding, which began July 28 and lasted for about a week, damaged hundreds of homes and displaced thousands in Knott County, Breathitt County, Perry County, Clay County and Letcher County, among others.
The Bidens landed in Lexington just after 10:30 a.m. and arrived in Chavies, Kentucky, just after 11:30 a.m. They were greeted by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and transported by SUV to the FEMA center at Marie Roberts-Caney Elementary School in Lost Creek.
"It's unfortunate. It's my second visit to Kentucky for a crisis," Biden said, according to a pool report.
"I promise you … as long as it takes, we're going to be here. We [the federal government] are committed. There's absolute 100% coverage of cost for the next few months."
"People don't realize those piles of heavy debris, it takes a lot of time, a lot of money to take it away," Biden added.
The president said he was saddened to see cars and buses washed into creeks as he flew over the state.
Beshear called the flooding "the most devastating and deadly flooding event certainly in my lifetime, unlike anything we've ever seen."
The governor said thousands of people are staying with friends and relatives, "but it's going to take us some time to stabilize people with needs for housing." He added that the National Guard airlifted 1,300 people while other agencies rescued thousands more.
"We've got power to everybody but about 200 homes. That is incredible. Water to more people than we ever thought was possible in this period of time," Beshear said. "Today is beautiful but the weather has not helped us out. It has either been raining or altogether too hot."
The Bidens departed the school at around 2 p.m. and stopped about three minutes later at Doran J. Hostetler Memorial Bridge. He spoke with locals recovering from the storm.
On the ground helping those impacted by the storm is the international Evangelical humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse.
"I can't imagine what you all have gone through. We're praying for you," Edward Graham, vice president of operations at Samaritan's Purse, told a community during his visit to affected areas last week. "I'm so sorry for your loss. We're here, so please let us know if we can help."
Samaritan's Purse volunteer teams are working in Floyd and Breathitt Counties in eastern Kentucky, helping homeowners mud out their homes, remove debris and otherwise clean up properties.
The organization deployed volunteer teams after last year's flooding in the region and had only recently concluded its long-term rebuild effort. The teams had to return.
"Everywhere we go, there are people hurting. We want to come along and meet people's needs," Luther Harrison, vice president of North American ministries with Samaritan's Purse, said. "This is heartbreaking to see. We were here before. We just left two weeks ago and now to see that it's worse. This is a Christian commitment. We're back to help these people to get back dried out and to go forward again."
During the visit, Edward Graham was joined by Will Graham, vice president and associate evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
The Christian humanitarian and disaster relief organization Convoy of Hope is also responding to the floods in eastern Kentucky, sending supplies worth more than 300,000 pounds.
"This historic flooding was catastrophic for so many families," said Ethan Forhetz, national spokesperson for Convoy of Hope, in a statement. "In just moments, their lives were turned upside down. Convoy of Hope is working to bring relief and hope to people who are beginning to recover and is in daily communication about the needs of the area."
The group is working with a school system to get food and supplies to people who haven't yet been able to evacuate.