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President Biden was briefed on the tornadoes that swept across the central U.S. overnight and pledged to work with the impacted states’ governors and provide federal assistance as needed.
“This morning, I was briefed on the devastating tornadoes across the central U.S. To lose a loved one in a storm like this is an unimaginable tragedy. We’re working with Governors to ensure they have what they need as the search for survivors and damage assessments continue,” the president said.
The president’s statement came just hours after Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear warned of “significant loss of life” and declared a state of emergency declaration. He also wrote a letter to Biden Saturday morning requesting federal assistance.
The White House also released a readout of a call between the president and Beshear Satruday morning, stating: “The President indicated that he has directed FEMA and other Federal agencies to provide the speediest assistance possible to impacted communities. The President and the Governor agreed to stay in contact throughout the day as search and rescue operations and damage assessments are ongoing.”
In addition, Beshear said the death toll could reach between 70 and 100 dead, across five or more counties.
“I request that you declare an emergency disaster for the Commonwealth of Kentucky in response to a severe weather system that has produced numerous tornadoes,” wrote Beshear.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also tweeted Saturday, saying that the White House is “closely monitoring” the impacts of the storms that swept over the country, adding that “we are heartbroken by the devastation.”
Psaki also said that the White House will provide the federal government’s “full support” as needed.
The massive amounts of debris is making it extremely difficult for search and rescue efforts, and the Kentucky National Guard has been deployed to provide assistance and support to impacted communities. The governor warned Kentucky residents to stay off the roads as emergency crews continue their response.
Heavy damage is seen downtown after a tornado swept through the area on Dec. 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
In addition, more than 200,000 customers remain without power in Tennessee and Kentucky on Saturday morning in the hours after the tornadoes tore through the region.