President Biden Calls Colorado Fires “Devastating,” Promises Federal Help

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President Joe Biden called the wreckage of the Colorado wildfires “devastating” at a press conference Friday night while accusing climate change of being the cause of the disaster and pledged that the federal government “was not going to disappear” during the crisis.

Biden and First Lady Jill arrived in Colorado on Friday afternoon to see the aftermath of a rare winter forest fire that ravaged two towns near Denver last week, leaving thousands homeless.

Two people were missing in fear of death after the fire ravaged 1,000 buildings before New Year’s Eve, forcing 35,000 people to flee and causing $ 513 million in damage.

Biden, who announced he would provide federal relief funds to victims of the blaze, met with Governor Jared Polis and other officials who oversaw the recovery efforts and spoke to families affected by the blaze.

He also pointed out that climate change was part of the cause of the disaster.

“Jill and I and my team looked at the damage from the Marshall Fire and it’s as devastating as it looks on TV, as devastating as many environmental crises I’ve seen over the past year. “Biden said.

President Joe Biden (right) speaks, flanked by First Lady Jill Biden, after visiting a neighborhood destroyed by the Marshall fire

The Bidens spoke with the victims of the fire after visiting their neighborhood.  The fires destroyed more than 1,000 homes

The Bidens spoke with the victims of the fire after visiting their neighborhood. The fires destroyed more than 1,000 homes

“There is nothing scarier, in my opinion, than a fire,” Biden added.

First Lady Jill Biden congratulated firefighters, police, paramedics and rescue workers, while expressing sympathy for the gathered families whose pets were killed in the blaze.

“I can say… what a strong and warm community you are, and I would like to say – on a personal note – the governor has told me how many of you have lost your pets,” the first lady said. “You know they’re family too, so I just want to say how sorry we are for the loss of your pets, because we’re animals, so, you know, we know what a difficult loss. that is.’

President Biden has promised the federal government will be there to help with the reconstruction.

“It’s amazing, amazing what people do in times of crisis. My message to them and to everyone affected by this is, you know, not only are you helping each other, but we are here with you, ”said the President. ‘We’re not going to leave. The federal government is not going to go away.

Biden has spoken on several occasions of climate change leading to more extreme weather events in recent years, and he repeated it on Friday.

“This situation is a red flash code for our nation,” Biden said. “The combination of extreme drought, the driest June to December period on record – on record, unusually strong winds, no snow on the ground to begin with created a powder keg. A real powder keg. ‘

“The bottom line here is that we have to find the courage to do something,” Biden added.

The Bidens first visited the Harper Lake neighborhood of Louisville, passing the charred remains of houses.

Biden hugged a woman who turned to explain the debris behind them, which included the remains of a house’s foundation and a burnt-out car in what appeared to be a driveway.

At the next stop, Jill Biden gave another woman a hug as a man told the President, “We’re going to be fine.”

President Joe Biden hugs a woman on Friday's wildfire devastation tour of Colorado

President Joe Biden hugs a woman on Friday’s wildfire devastation tour of Colorado

Biden comforts another survivor as he pledges to provide federal aid to devastated region

Biden comforts another survivor as he pledges to provide federal aid to devastated region

President and First Lady Jill Biden listen to one of the thousands left homeless by the wildfires

President and First Lady Jill Biden listen to one of the thousands left homeless by the wildfires

Couple show President and First Lady the charred remains of their property

Couple show President and First Lady the charred remains of their property

The President shakes hands with a group of 10 firefighters and rescuers, who have each received a Challenge Coin

The President shakes hands with a group of 10 firefighters and rescuers, who have each received a Challenge Coin

They moved on to another group of families, talking to each.

A man told him, “We’ve lost everything,” as Biden spoke to another couple.

The man told Jill Biden: “We are lucky to have a lot of good friends.”

The president then approached and hugged the man his wife had just kissed.

“I’m not even dressed properly because that’s all I’ve got,” the man told Biden, gesturing to his shorts.

“We really need help,” the son of man told the president.

At one point, Biden leaned in to stroke a very happy golden retriever.

Towards the end of the tour, Biden, the First Lady and Colorado officials stopped to talk and shake hands with a group of 10 fire and rescue officials. Biden gave the officials each a challenge coin.

The prairie grass fire in Boulder County, on the northern outskirts of metro Denver, has burned more than 6,000 acres, officials said, with the flames sometimes devouring waist-wide expanses of football field. of a landscape parched by drought in seconds.

Before leaving the White House, he described the destruction as “horrible to God”.

President takes time to pet a golden retriever as First Lady Jill Biden meets with families

President takes time to pet a golden retriever as First Lady Jill Biden meets with families

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill visited a neighborhood in Louisville, Colorado where a rare winter wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes last week

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill visited a neighborhood in Louisville, Colorado where a rare winter wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes last week

In this aerial view, burnt down homes and cars can be seen in a neighborhood devastated by the Marshall Fire on January 4, 2022 in Louisville, Colorado.

In this aerial view, burnt down homes and cars can be seen in a neighborhood devastated by the Marshall Fire on January 4, 2022 in Louisville, Colorado.

Authorities reported 991 homes were destroyed in the blaze, making it the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history

Authorities reported 991 homes were destroyed in the blaze, making it the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history

This is his second trip as president to Colorado and his second focusing on wildfires.

Last year, he made several trips following extreme weather events – an ice storm in Houston, flooding in New York and New Jersey, and tornadoes in Kentucky.

Biden said the scene of the last fire on the eastern fringe of the Rocky Mountains was a national disaster, freeing up federal funds to help residents and businesses with recovery efforts.

Colorado’s normal wildfire season does not usually extend into winter thanks to the snow cover and bracing cold. But climate change and rising global temperatures are leaving vegetation in parts of the western United States drier and more incendiary.

Insured losses from the fire, which devastated parts of the cities of Superior and Louisville, are expected to be around $ 1 billion, according to disaster modeling firm Karen Clark & ​​Company.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis greets the President and the First Lady as they arrive for a tour of devastation

Colorado Governor Jared Polis greets the President and the First Lady as they arrive for a tour of devastation

Local authorities alone estimate the value of damage to residential property at over $ 500 million.

The president’s main legislative initiative, the Build Back Better Act, would allocate billions of dollars to increased forest management, firefighting and efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

The bill, contested by Republicans, was passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in November. He has yet to pass the Senate, where he has yet to gain the necessary support from all of Biden’s Democratic colleagues.

After inspecting the scene in Colorado, Biden and the first lady are due to travel to Las Vegas to attend the Saturday funeral of Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader.

Reid died last week after a years-long battle with cancer at the age of 82. He and Biden had served together in the Senate.


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