McConnell issues statement on eastern Kentucky floods

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement today on the Senate floor regarding the flooding in Kentucky:

“Eastern Kentucky is reeling from some of the worst flooding in our state’s history. The area is still experiencing rainfall today. This horrible, tragic crisis is far from over. In Jackson, waters reached 43-and-a-half feet high, breaking an 83-year record. Drone footage shows whole towns submerged. Roadways have turned into rivers. Rising waters have reached rooftops. Across more than a dozen counties, severe rainstorms have created crisis conditions. Water rose too quickly for many to react, with tragic consequences. The governor has confirmed that 35 Kentuckians lost their lives amid the flash floods, including children. Sadly, I’m told that number will rise in the coming days. Even the families who were lucky enough to get out unscathed have lost homes, businesses, and heirlooms. In many communities, the waterlogged destruction is absolute. Eastern Kentucky is well known for its steep hilltops, rolling forests, and deep hollers. Those features, which make the region one of the most unique in the country, also create complications for emergency personnel. Our heroic first responders, including the National Guard from Kentucky and surrounding states, are working overtime to find and recover stranded residents. They’ve rescued more than 1,400 individuals since floodwaters hit, nearly half by air.”

“Late last week, I joined with every member of Kentucky’s congressional delegation to support the governor’s request to the president for a major disaster declaration to give our first responders federal help. President Biden issued that declaration promptly and resources are already flowing into the commonwealth to assist local emergency personnel. I’ve spoken to the president and FEMA Director Criswell to thank them for their speedy action. Director Criswell traveled to Kentucky last week and has been on the ground assisting with recovery efforts directly. My staff in southeastern Kentucky are in close touch with local officials in that area, providing all the help we can. I will visit the affected communities myself in the coming days to meet with constituents and offer support.”

“Last December, the city of Mayfield in western Kentucky was devastated by tornadoes. The town lost its fire station in the storm. But despite their own challenges, last week the Mayfield Fire Department filled an ambulance with equipment and rushed to eastern Kentucky to aid relief efforts. They didn’t have to think twice before helping fellow Kentuckians. Residents with boats, jet skis, and kayaks put their own lives at risk to rescue their neighbors. schools, churches, parks and businesses opened their doors to displaced families. As one resident put it over the weekend, no matter what, eastern Kentuckians ‘help each other.’ I’m monitoring this situation closely and doing all I can to assist. Kentucky leaders on both sides of the political aisle are working together to coordinate further federal aid. I’m thankful to everyone who sprang into action to help with the rescue efforts, whether they were professional first responders or just good Samaritans. And I’m thankful for the help our state has already received from FEMA. Their continued assistance will be vital for rebuilding in the months ahead. Eastern Kentucky has been devastated by these floods. Our recovery process will take months and, in some places, years. But I know we will bounce back. Kentucky has faced challenges before. And we always overcome.”