President Joe Biden toured tornado-ravaged parts of western Kentucky on Wednesday, invoking his own experience with personal loss as he recalled the deaths of his first wife and daughter in an automobile accident.

Prior to visiting with local Kentucky families affected by the storms, Biden told reporters in the town of Mayfield that the "incredible" first responders and civilians "pulling together, helping each other," gave him hope.

"A tractor trailer broadsided my wife with a Christmas tree on top and my three kids inside," Biden said in Dawson Springs. "My wife and daughter were dead." He then quoted his mother as saying, "Out of everything terrible, something good will happen."


"We’re going to stay until this gets finished and totally reconstructed. A lot of people are going through a God-awful mess now, and right now, they’re just recovering from the shock of it all," Biden added. "But in a month, in two months, in three months, when things are going to get really — they’re going to get really worried because they’re not — it can’t all be done that quickly."

Biden vowed that the federal government would be "involved" in the rebuilding process "until this gets rebuilt, not just here, but particularly here, but also the other states as well." His trip came as the nation prepares to spend the Christmas holidays grappling with inflation and a potential new COVID-19 wave.

"You know, we’ve got $99 billion worth of damage just this year, just this year, because of foul weather and climate change, and so, we’re going to get it done," he continued. "I've been impressed how everybody is working together. I really mean it. It’s just amazing. The stories I’ve heard are all personal stories, not stories about 'I lost. I did this.' They’re talking about other people and helping other people. It’s just been amazing but not surprising."


Biden previously approved a number of disaster declarations for the states affected by the deadly tornadoes, but the president amended the Kentucky declaration Wednesday afternoon to cover full federal reimbursement for all disaster cleanup efforts.