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Biden to Colorado flood victims: 'We're not going away'

Sep. 24, 2013 at 8:31 AM ET

The potential government shutdown looming over the nation won’t have an impact on the emergency funds used to help Colorado residents rebuild homes lost to this month’s catastrophic flooding, Vice President Joe Biden promised Tuesday.

“If there’s a shutdown — and God forbid, there’s no need for a shutdown, man — if it were to happen, it will not affect any of the recovery work going on right now,” he told TODAY’s Al Roker after assessing some of the thousands of acres of flood-ravaged land.

The funds come from an account that won’t be affected by either the upcoming end of the fiscal calendar or the inability of Capitol Hill to agree on a spending plan for the nation, said FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, who accompanied Biden on the tour.

While the two toured flood-ravaged neighborhoods, Biden acknowledged an uptick in natural disasters that have hit the country recently. In the last 18 months alone, federal emergency responders have dealt with devastating catastrophes including Superstorm Sandy and numerous tornadoes in Oklahoma.

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“You can't attribute any one thing to global warming, but … all of these weather events seem more severe and more pervasive,” he said.   

Colorado residents are now beginning to assess their personal damage from the catastrophic flood that has left hundreds of people in shelters after rains washed away their homes. Many don’t have flood insurance but Fugate said they will still be able to get federal aid once they register with FEMA.

“We think that for a lot of folks, we can provide them renters' assistance, get them a place to stay while they go through the next steps,” he said.

Biden promised the federal government will stay by Colorado residents long after the publicity over the floods has subsided.

“We're not going away,” he said. “After the camera's gone, after we're not covering this anymore, take a look at where we've been before. We're not leaving. We're going to do everything possible to make people whole.”

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