Biden Promises Florida Long-Lasting Help

DeSantis praises coordination among federal, state, and local agencies
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 5, 2022 5:55 PM CDT
Biden Promises Florida Help as Long as It's Needed
In this image taken through a window, President Biden and first lady Jill Biden take an aerial tour on Marine One to view the storm-ravaged areas Wednesday in Fort Myers, Fla.   (Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP)

President Biden surveyed the devastation of hurricane-ravaged Florida on Wednesday, promising to marshal the power of the federal government to help rebuild as he comforted residents alongside Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 election foe. Both men declared they were putting politics aside for now, the AP reports. "Today we have one job and only one job, and that's to make sure the people in Florida get everything they need to fully, thoroughly recover," Biden said in Fort Myers, which bore the brunt of Ian's assault. "It's going to take a hell of a long time, hopefully without any snags in the way," he said. "Later, after the television cameras have moved on, we're still going to be here with you."

Earlier, DeSantis and his wife, Casey, greeted the president and first lady Jill Biden as they arrived at Fisherman's Wharf, where homes and business lay in ruins amid debris and muck after Hurricane Ian tore through last week. Biden and DeSantis spoke by themselves next to a boat the storm had lifted into a cafe, then moved separately among residents hit hard by the hurricane. Biden embraced one woman. The scope of the devastation was immense. Biden's motorcade drove by wind-shorn trees, some of them uprooted. Fields off the highway were still flooded, forming stagnant lagoons. Signs for stores and restaurants were blown out, ruined mattresses were piled in neighborhood streets, a building was tipped to the side like a chess piece. An armada of workers and repair trucks struggled with recovery.

Hurricane Ian has resulted in at least 84 confirmed deaths, including 75 in Florida. Many people are still waiting for power to be restored, and many still are unable to get food and water. At a briefing with local officials, Biden emphasized that the rebuilding effort will take months or years. "The only thing I can assure you is that the federal government will be here until it's finished," Biden said. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told reporters that the cost of rebuilding will be huge: "It will certainly be in the billions and perhaps one of the more costly disasters that we've seen in many years." DeSantis made a point of praising FEMA along with local and state agencies, saying coordination among them has been exceptional. "There's been less bureaucracy holding us back in this one than probably any one I've ever seen,” DeSantis said in Matlacha. (Read more Hurricane Ian stories.)

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