Biden tours portions of tornado-damaged St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Biden tours portions of tornado-damaged St. Louis

May 11, 2011

Reporting from Jake Wagman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was also used in this report.

Vice President Joe Biden is getting a first-hand look at damage left from a tornado that hit the St. Louis area last month.

Biden flew into the area Wednesday morning and took a walking tour with Gov. Jay Nixon of portions of the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley.

Neighborhoods there still showed signs of ruin from the April 22 storms. Some large trees remain toppled onto houses while piles of debris were found along many of the streets.

Biden gave residents handshakes and hugs while assuring them that federal assistance would be made available in their efforts to rebuild and relocate, if necessary.

The vice president discussed potential FEMA relocation benefits with one resident who has been told she must vacate her damaged home "ASAP."

"Our first objective is to get a roof over your head," Biden told the woman. "We know peoples' lives have been disrupted."

Biden called cleaning up from the recent string of flooding and storms in the Midwest and South a "national responsibility."

Biden was dressed for the heat in a polo shirt, slacks and tasseled loafers. After spending about 30 minutes in Berkeley, the vice president was scheduled to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

The event is at the Richmond Heights home of Bob Clark, a builder who was appointed by the president to sit on the White House Preservation Committee.

Over the last three years, Biden has been a regular visitor to St. Louis, the site of the only vice-presidential debate in the 2008 election.

President Barack Obama has declared some sections of the St. Louis region a disaster area, freeing up government help for affected property owners.