Biden Vows to Cover Costs of Tornado Cleanup, Recovery Efforts in Kentucky for 30 Days

The federal government will cover all of the emergency work costs in Kentucky for the next 30 days following the severe tornadoes that ravaged the state, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.

"I intend to do whatever it takes as long as it takes," Biden said in remarks delivered at Dawson Springs after he toured some of the towns hit hardest by the storms. "You will recover and you will rebuild. The scope and scale of this destruction is almost beyond belief."

Up to 100 people are feared dead in the Central and Southern U.S. because of the devastating storms. Federal disaster declarations have been approved for Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois.

The first disaster declaration, which Biden signed over the weekend, made federal assistance available for 75 percent of eligible costs. Biden said that declaration was amended Wednesday to cover 100 percent of the costs for the next 30 days for "all the emergency work."

"It includes debris removal, cost of overtime for law enforcement and emergency service personnel and shelter," he said. "And that will get you through."

Biden also said Wednesday he was struck by the way the community's members have come together to help each other.

"That's what you're supposed to be doing," Biden said during a briefing with state officials. "That's the way it's supposed to be. There's no red tornadoes or blue tornadoes. There's no red states or blue states when this stuff starts to happen."

The president landed in Kentucky around noon and was greeted by Governor Andy Beshear. Biden was joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and other top officials.

As he toured the devastation, Biden told volunteers and faith-based groups on the ground that they were doing "God's work."

Biden: 100% Tornado Costs Covered 30 Days
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday. Biden traveled to Kentucky to visit some of the places hit hardest by the deadly tornadoes. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

According to Beshear, 74 people have died in Kentucky. Twelve of the victims are children. More than 100 people remained unaccounted for, the governor said.

"You might think that we are broken, but we are not," he said on Wednesday. "In Kentucky, we're good people, we love one another, and we lean on one another. We open our homes to those in need, not just today but every day. We will repair our homes, our businesses, and we will repair our lives."

Officials have said that at least six people were killed after an Amazon warehouse in Illinois collapsed. The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed four weather-related deaths due to the storm. Two people died in Arkansas after the twisters hit.

"There's no words for the pain of losing someone," Biden said. "A lot of us know it, a lot of us understand it, especially around the holidays when everything's supposed to be happy and joyful."