Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will travel to his home state of Kentucky on Friday to survey the damage from the devastating spate of tornadoes that ravaged the area, which killed at least 74 people statewide.
“This is the worst one we’ve ever had, by far,” McConnell said of the tornadoes in an interview with Spectrum News on Thursday.
Mayfield and Dawson Springs — two of the hardest-hit areas, which President Joe Biden visited on Wednesday — McConnell said, were “just obliterated, they’re gonna have to be completely rebuilt.”
When Biden toured tornado devastation in the area on Wednesday, Biden pledged that the federal government would cover 100% of the cost of Kentucky's initial recovery efforts.
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.
“It's our turn to help the entire town to heal,” Biden said in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.
"I intend to do whatever it takes, as long as it takes to support your state," the president added. "You will recover and you will rebuild.”
McConnell said that his office has been helping to respond to the storm since “day one,” and had been in contact President Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell since the morning after the storm.
“We want to make sure that the federal response isn't just for a little while, but for a longer while, and that we do everything we can at the federal level to help them get back to normal,” McConnell said.
McConnell said that the federal response to the storm has so far been “good.”
“Everybody got on the ground very quickly,” he said. “But we want to make sure that we stick to it here. As the story begins to fade, the problems are still there. And so we want to play the long game through this whole process and make sure that, at least at the federal side, everything is dealt with as long as possible.”
McConnell has represented the state in Congress for 36 years — but his ties to the Bluegrass State date back to 1956, when his family first moved to Louisville. The longtime Kentucky senator says that one of the most encouraging things he’s seen so far from the aftermath of the deadly storm has been the “heartwarming stories” of people helping one another out.
“I mean, one of my colleagues, for example, grabbed a buddy and a chainsaw and went to Bowling Green to help out,” McConnell said.
The people of Kentucky, McConnell said, are “strong,” “optimistic” and “resilient,” adding: “We're gonna get through this, and we're going to build back even better.”