Joe Biden came to demonstrate, Wednesday, December 15, his support for the victims of the tornadoes that ravaged several cities in the Midwest, Friday. “No one will let you down”, promised the US president.
“These tornadoes devoured everything in their path”, “Homes, businesses, places of worship, your dreams, your lives”, said the US president in a short speech in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, one of the worst affected communities. Behind him, a house of which only one side still stood in the middle of the rubble. Federal government “Will cover 100% of the cost of the clearance work for thirty days”, he promised.
After flying over a disaster area, Joe Biden visited Mayfield, another small town devastated by the tornado that swept through this rural and conservative state in the southeastern United States, killing at least 74 people there.
No red tornadoes or blue tornadoes
During these two visits, the president stopped several times, to chat with a woman sitting in the rubble of a building, to hug a disaster victim, or to speak with a young girl carrying an American flag. . Around him, collapsed buildings, heaps of bricks, branches, sheet metal, where construction machinery and workers dressed in fluorescent yellow were busy.
“What I saw was a bunch of amazing people coming together, helping each other. And who are full of hope ”, he told reporters. In a meeting with local officials in a hangar where food and water bottles were stored, the president said: “There are no red tornadoes or blue tornadoes”, in reference to the respective colors of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, his.
In this exceptional meteorological phenomenon, which also claimed at least 14 victims in Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas, Joe Biden finds a rare opportunity for national unity, he who had promised during his campaign to bring together a America deeply divided.
The US president is not going to conquered land, politically speaking: while Kentucky has a Democratic governor, the state gave Republican Donald Trump a very large majority in the 2020 election. And during his visit on Wednesday, reporters saw a Trump name flag on a pickup truck.
An unusual phenomenon
Joe Biden had taken care, before his departure, not to politicize the visit, and he remained in a register that is familiar to him: that of empathy and comfort. The president wore a cap from the “Beau Biden Foundation”, in tribute to her beloved son, who died of cancer at the age of 46. A way of remembering that he himself went through hardships: this mourning, and the death in 1972 of his first wife and their still baby daughter.
“The president sees people through the tragedy they are going through – the pain of having lost loved ones, of having lost their home. (…) He sees them as human beings, not as people with partisan ties ”, said his spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday.
Joe Biden spoke with great caution about a link between these tornadoes and climate change, while in September, seeing the devastation of Storm Ida in New York and New Jersey, he spoke of” Red alert “ climate change and seized the opportunity to praise its major investment projects.
“We have to be very careful. We cannot say with absolute certainty that it is linked to climate change ”, he said on Monday, calling only the storms of the previous Friday as“Unusual”.
While the president was visiting Kentucky, the US government’s weather forecast service warned of episodes of high winds, and sometimes storms, in several central states.