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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Biden promises federal government will be with communities devastated by Colorado wildfires

Speaking at a recreation center in Louisville, Colorado, Biden said the damage was heartbreaking to see in person.

Biden said, “Jill and I, and my team, have surveyed the damage of the Marshall Fire and it’s as devastating as it looks on television, as devastating as the environmental crises I’ve seen in the past year.” “

After spending more than an hour with fire-affected families and listening to their stories, Biden said wildfires are among the natural disasters that affect him the most.

“In my view, there is nothing so frightening as fire,” Biden said.

He continued, “The hard part is, I guess, the memorable lost — the special things you gave away that you lost. But, you know, look at it this way, you’ve got a lot more special dreams. and you are going to live in your new home.”

Officials say the fast-spreading fire burned more than 6,000 acres and destroyed nearly 1,000 homes. Several inches of snow helped put the fire under control, but many people lost their electricity. Two people are missing, and Boulder County investigators have found partial human remains. The Colorado Coroner said Friday that the remains were identified as 69-year-old boulder Robert Shepp of Colorado. Earlier this week the sheriff’s office said it was investigating how the fire started.

During his remarks, Biden told heroic stories of firefighters and ordinary citizens — like the man who made sure enough water was flowing to a local water treatment plant to allow firefighters to fight the fire — and Urged the community to stick together and lean on each other in its wake.

First Lady Jill Biden praised the firefighters, police, EMTs and rescue workers working to save people from the flames of the encroachment. In a trademark personal touch, she also expressed sympathy to the gathering families whose pets were killed in the fire.

“I can tell… how strong a strong community you are, and I would like to say – on a personal note – the governor told me how many of you have lost your family,” she said. “You know, they are family members too, so I just want to say how sorry we are for the loss of your pet, because we are animals, so, you know, we know how hard a loss is is.”

The president has made available federal funding to aid state and local recovery efforts, which can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-cost loans for covered uninsured damages. The president spoke with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, last Friday about providing federal support.

Biden said on Friday that the federal government would do everything possible to help the region.

Biden said, “It’s amazing, amazing what people do in crisis. My message to him and everyone affected by it is, you’re not only helping each other but we’re here with you.” “We’re not going away. The federal government isn’t going away.”

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Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Dean Criswell told CNN over the weekend that federal teams were focused on working with state and local officials to clear debris and develop a housing strategy for immediate and long-term needs. Can go

Biden has spoken repeatedly about how the climate crisis is exacerbating the growing threat from wildfires and is to blame for the increase in extreme weather events in recent years, and did it again on Friday.

“This situation is a blinking code red for our country,” Biden said during his Colorado remarks. “The combination of extreme drought, the driest period ever recorded from June to December – ever recorded, unusually high winds, no snow on the ground to begin with, created a tinderbox. A literal tinderbox. “

During his nearly one year in office, the President has traveled to many areas of the country ravaged by natural disasters, including many areas affected by wildfires.

In the fall, Biden traveled to Idaho and California to survey the damage caused by wildfires. The president said the recent extreme weather events are costing the US billions of dollars each year and made a case for massive investments to make the country’s infrastructure more resilient to these threats.

The president has announced new federal response plans that include paying firefighters more, expanding seasonal hiring, adding “surge capability” by training and equipping additional personnel and increasing fire-detection resources. He said the administration would use satellite and emerging technologies for rapid detection of new fires.

During his remarks in Colorado, Biden pointed to his legislative agenda as a potential hedge against the worst effects of natural disasters induced by climate change. Taking the opportunity to reflect on his visit to the region in September, when he visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the president acknowledged, “It is no consolation that you have now lost your home, but that We’re going to be able to do a lot of renewable things that allow you not only to rebuild, but to rebuild and rebuild better, to build better than before, and that includes preparing for wildfires. Including billions of dollars for the safety of homes, resilience, and public means.”

“The bottom line is that we have to summon the courage to do something about it,” Biden said as he discussed the effects of climate change on wildfires.

He continued, “We’ve got a recovery here in Boulder County that’s going to take a long time, I’m not going to joke with you. We’ll be with you as long as it takes time. We’re going every step of the way.” But stay here, I promise. It will get better, it will get better.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’s Donald Judd contributed to this report.


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