Gov. DeSantis predicts Joe Biden could play politics during hurricane season

desantis v biden
The nation is one week into hurricane season, and DeSantis is looking to put President Biden on notice.

Florida won’t only have inflation to worry about as the state gears up for hurricane season. Gov. Ron DeSantis says the Sunshine State will also have to contend with the politics of President Joe Biden.

The high levels of inflation will make it more expensive for residents to buy gas and canned goods this hurricane season, which runs from June to November. But Florida’s Republican Governor on Monday told reporters federal aid won’t come as easy as it did during his first two years as Governor.

After the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied Florida a disaster declaration over a pair of tornadoes that touched down in Charlotte and Lee counties in January, DeSantis hopes Biden will step up in the event of a hurricane this season, like his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, did.

“Proof will be in the pudding when that comes,” DeSantis said. “I can tell you that it will definitely be a little bit more of a struggle in terms of that.”

The Biden administration has slow-walked Florida’s receipt of other federal programs before while California and New York received quick approvals, DeSantis said.

“That’s just the reality. I think there’s a lot of politics,” DeSantis continued. “But I think that’s unfortunate. That is not the way you do disaster response. I mean, you’ve got to put all that to the side and you’ve got to be willing to step up.”

While DeSantis alleges the White House played politics with the tornado relief, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell wrote in her denial letter in February that state, local and volunteer resources had the capacity to respond to damage caused by the EF-1 and EF-2 tornadoes, rendering supplemental federal assistance unnecessary. Criswell reiterated the position in April after the state filed an appeal.

DeSantis noted Trump expedited assistance to Florida in the months after Hurricane Michael struck the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm in October 2018.

It’s not the first time DeSantis has highlighted FEMA’s denial. He held a news conference over the denial in February, and last month, his office published a news release highlighting that the U.S. Small Business Administration granted disaster loans to residents impacted by the Southwest Florida storms.

“Since Biden’s been President, it seems like whatever they can do to thumb their nose at Florida, they try to do it,” DeSantis said during the February news conference.

However, FEMA and the Biden administration have also lent assistance to Florida in the wake of other disasters.

Since the tornadoes, FEMA has declared fire management assistance over two fires that blazed in the Panhandle in March. Biden also traveled to Surfside and met with DeSantis after the Champlain Towers South collapsed last June. Prior to his arrival in Florida, Biden had told reporters he was waiting for DeSantis to ask for or to declare an emergency before sending federal assistance.

DeSantis has engaged in several dust-ups with Biden and the White House. DeSantis dates the political dispute back to the federal government’s decision to scale back Florida’s access to monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 last fall. But the state and federal government have also faced off over masking policies and Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an above-average hurricane season this year with an estimated 14 to 21 named storms, three to six of which could be at least Category 3.

Speaking alongside DeSantis, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie noted inflation will make it more difficult for people to buy groceries and assemble preparedness kits in advance of a storm. Even though Guthrie is working with local governments to help them prepare, such as by helping them afford to stock up on generators, DeSantis said chronic supply chain issues worsened by the Biden administration could hamper local governments’ abilities to prepare.

“If you get to a point where one of those gets knocked out by a storm, you want to then go buy another one and it may not be just somewhere on the shelf where they’re going to be able to get it,” DeSantis said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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