THE VICE PRESIDENT: President Trump asked me to be here in Nebraska and here in the region today with a very simple message. To all the families that have seen their homes flooded, seen livestock lost, who have had their lives, their communities upset by these extraordinary floods and severe weather, our message is this: We’re with you. And the American people are going to stand with people across Nebraska, across Iowa, across all of the eight states that have been impacted by this severe weather and this flooding.
I’m so grateful for the leadership of Governor Ricketts and Governor Reynolds. We’re grateful for the strong support from their delegations in the Congress — Senator Sasse, Senator Ernst, and Congressman Bacon.
This is a time when we’re all coming together to come alongside the families and communities that have been displaced by this extraordinary weather. We’re going to take the opportunity to get up in the air, to get out on the ground, to take a firsthand look. And we’ll be reporting back to the President and to the administration.
Nebraska has turned in a declaration for a national emergency. I’m aware that Iowa is preparing theirs and it will be submitted to Washington, D.C. for consideration. And as I assured them, at the President’s direction, we will expedite that request to make sure that the families and communities that have been impacted have access to the federal resources and support that is designed for exactly times like these.
Let me say from my heart, we mourn for the families of those who lost their lives. And we are truly grateful for the extraordinary response by public safety officials, first responders, the National Guard. It is remarkable to think, when you see this devastation from the air, about the fact that it wasn’t so much worse. And that is a testament to the resilience of people in Nebraska and Iowa. It’s also a testament to the extraordinary efforts by first responders in the region.
Let me also say, we’re truly grateful for the volunteer efforts that are underway. Church organizations, charitable organizations. I’ll be stopping by a shelter later today. People, many of whom have lost their own homes, who are volunteering in shelters to help neighbors that have been affected by these floods. So that’s why they call this the “Heartland,” and it’s in high relief in the charitable works of volunteers.
But, Governor Ricketts, Governor Reynolds, the senators and the congressmen who are here — I’m grateful for your leadership. I know the President is grateful for your strong, forward-leaning leadership in this crisis. And I want to assure you that we’re going to stand with you. We’re going to make sure that the federal resources are available for these families, these communities, and your states to rebuild bigger and better than ever before. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to be with you today.
GOVERNOR RICKETTS: We’re very grateful for the administration, to all their cooperation. The FEMA folks have been fantastic, as far as helping us get our letter in, with regard to requesting a federal disaster. And, Vice President, we really appreciate you coming to take a look firsthand about what the damage has been across the state because this is the most widespread damage we’ve ever experienced in our state in our state’s history. It is truly an epic disaster.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for your great leadership, Governor. I appreciate it very much.
GOVERNOR REYNOLDS: Thank you. We appreciate you being here. I, too, want to express my appreciation to the President and the Vice President. The coordination and the outreach has been second to none. We’ve heard from almost the entire Cabinet that have reached out to us to say, “We stand ready to help. Let us know what you need.”
I want to thank the emergency responders and the volunteers and just tell the law enforcement that it is incredible. (Inaudible) for you taking the time to do the flyover because it is hard to describe the catastrophic events that have taken place (inaudible). So thank you.
It’s all hands on deck. That means federal, state, and local. And I just appreciate so much the partnership that you all have (inaudible) provided to us. Thanks. Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for your leadership.
SENATOR SASSE: Mr. Vice President, thank you for your leadership and thank you to the President for sending you out here. You’ve both been great. And as the Governor says, that the whole Cabinet have been reaching out to us — just Cabinet official after Cabinet official — saying they want to be there for our people.
And I just want to underscore your point about thanking the volunteers — for all those of you who are neighbor helping neighbor, (inaudible) people. It really is an amazing thing to behold when you go into shelters across Nebraska and you find people whose houses were lost, and they show up at the shelter and they want to be in the volunteer line. And we’ve met these people. They don’t want to be in the line to receive services. They’ve suffered (inaudible) property loss, but they have the minds — they and their kids want to be serving their neighbor. And those are the kind of people that make Nebraska and Iowa who we are.
Thank you for coming (inaudible).
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Inaudible.)
SENATOR ERNST: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. It is good to know that we have the leadership standing with us — the President and the Vice President — and working on these declarations for Iowa and Nebraska.
Having witnessed the flood of 2011 firsthand and working as a National Guardsman on the ground in Mills and Fremont County, having been down in Fremont County this past weekend, being able to observe the differences, this is a much worse flood event than we had in 2011.
And you’re absolutely correct, Senator Sasse, that the people that are out there — working as volunteers, working in the EOCs, helping the emergency managers — they are the heart of the Midwest, and they’re coming forward. And, even in the worst of times, we can see the best of people.
So I want to thank you again for your leadership, the President’s leadership, and all the governors — our tremendous governors — and the delegation that we have. We’ll be with you. Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE BACON: Thank you. Mr. Vice President, we are so blessed to have their commitment — the Vice President and the President’s commitment — to expedite (inaudible). We know we need that expedited. The livestock, the roads, the bridges, thousands of homes. So that is — once again here, Mr. Vice President, we appreciate that.
We’ve got a great opportunity to (inaudible) at the damage that we have in Valley and Waterloo (inaudible) the southern part of our district, and really the entire periphery of our district has had this damage, but also to show the heart of Nebraskans to pull together. We’re not Republicans. We’re not Democrats. In this sense, we are Nebraskans. We’re Iowans. We’re pulling together. And we’re grateful for the Vice President to come out and to help us out, and to get them this aid down here fast.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Congressman. Thank you very much. We’re going to get up in the air and take a look around. And again, I want to thank the leadership of these two governors, these senators, and this great delegation (inaudible). We work very closely with them. We will — as the Congressman said, at the President’s direction, we will expedite the review of the disaster declaration request from Nebraska and Iowa.
And, to all the families that have been impacted by this historic flooding, just know that the American people are standing with you, praying for you, and we’re going to continue to stand with you and be with you until these communities come all the way back, bigger and better than ever before.
So thank you all very much.