Biden and Desantis stressed unity in rebuilding Florida

Biden and Desantis stressed unity in rebuilding Florida

President Joe Biden met Wednesday with Florida Governor Ron Desantis to personally inspect the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ian, and stressed the need for a joint federal and state effort for the long recovery ahead.

Democrat Biden and Desantis, who is seen by many as a potential Republican presidential candidate, have previously disagreed with each other on a host of issues, including COVID-19 vaccinations, climate change, abortion rights and LGBTQ rights. But during the president’s visit, they put aside their differences. Biden pledged federal support for Florida’s cleanup and recovery efforts, which could cost taxpayers billions of dollars and take years.

Biden and Desantis greeted each other warmly and met with hurricane victims together.

“Mr. President, welcome to Florida. We appreciate working together at different levels of government,” Desantis said, addressing Joe Biden.

“We have one responsibility today, and that is to make sure the people of Florida get everything they need,” Biden said, calling DeSantis the “master” of the state.

The president began his remarks by saying that the hurricane showed that climate change is real and must be dealt with. Experts say climate change is making hurricanes more rain-saturated, windy and generally stronger.

The president and first lady arrived at Fort Myers early Wednesday morning, two days after visiting Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory hit by Hurricane Fiona last month.

Biden saw the devastation during a helicopter flight and called it terrifying.

Hurricane Ian killed more than 100 people in Florida and left about 400,000 homes and businesses without power.

The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Dina Criswell, said it would cost the federal government billions of dollars to fix the aftermath of the storm.

Biden has been in regular contact with Desantis during the crisis, and the federal government has taken over much of the initial disaster relief.

“It’s going to take a long, long time. Not weeks or months – it’s going to take years for things to get back to normal in the state of Florida, to fully recover,” Biden said. – As the governor said, we have seen exceptional cooperation at all levels of government. And the cooperation started before the storm hit.”