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Dawson Springs families honored to share stories of survival with President Joe Biden

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Posted at 10:30 PM, Dec 15, 2021

DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (WTVF) — President Joe Biden offered a rare moment of levity for neighbors of Dawson Springs on the road to recovery.

Marlene Kimmel would never have imagined the president coming to her small town. To say it was overwhelming would barely scratch the surface. Kimmel spoke briefly with Biden and shared how much she appreciated his visit. She spoke about her house on the corner that was only a shell from what it was last week.

Kimmel just barely escaped when the roof came crashing down. She returned Wednesday to find her grandmother’s portrait and her wedding band buried beneath the rubble.

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"I cried more over this portrait than I did over anything in the house," Kimmel said.

That’s when she heard the news that Biden would walk right past her home and if she was interested, she could have a moment to speak with him.

“I got a hug from the president of the United States. We loved him in the beginning, but we love him even more now. I told him we would pray for him. Shore him up so he can do what we need him to do,” Kimmel said.

Joined by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, the two took photos and Biden was seen jotting down contact information for each family. At one point Biden escorted a young man who had just met to the podium. His family home was torn apart like many in the neighborhood, but it was a moment to smile for some who had lost so much.

“I promise you, you’re going to heal. We’re going to recover, we’re going to rebuild. You’re going to be stronger than you were before,” Biden said.

As he was leaving, Biden gestured to one homeowner that he would be back for dinner. The remark was met with laughs and well wishes.

Kimmel said one of her biggest concerns was making sure Biden knew how difficult it is to find temporary housing. She and her husband have been staying in a shelter as they wait to rebuild their home. Kimmel said she had insurance, but the delay in repairs means having to find a place to stay in the meantime. As for her neighbors, she worries most will never return.