Joe Biden, Ron DeSantis broadcast unity, cooperation during Hurricane Ian recovery

biden desantis
'I can assure you is that the federal government will be here until it’s finished.'

President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis, frequent political foes, locked hands outside Fisherman’s Wharf and discussed response to Hurricane Ian.

The First Ladies for the nation and state stood alongside the national figures as they shared information about the storm outside the range of press microphones. Shortly after the greeting, the Governor led a briefing with state officials and the White House press pool in the room. The first words out of the Republican Governor’s briefing with the Democratic president similarly broadcast unity.

“Thanks to President Biden,” DeSantis said.

Biden said after a short aerial tour, it was clear Florida’s state government and the federal administration will need to remain in cooperation long term. He predicted recovery from the storm won’t last days and weeks, but rather months and years.

“The only thing I can assure you is that the federal government will be here until it’s finished,” he said.

It’s a tenor different than many imagine will exist should the two leaders face each other in a few years on a presidential debate stage. It’s also a sight few expected would come barely a month away from a critical Midterm Election where DeSantis personally worked to provide Republicans opportunities to control Congress the next two years.

Indeed, the threat of a storm forced Biden to postpone a political trip to Florida where he planned to boost DeSantis’ Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist.

But so goes the aftermath of an historic Category 4 storm. Hurricane Ian made landfall at Cayo Cost on Sept. 27, just over a week before Biden’s visit to Southwest Florida.

Biden has declared a major disaster in now 19 Florida counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia.

That allows individuals and households to seek assistance directly from the  Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for temporary housing, basic home repairs and other uninsured disaster needs.

Biden flew to Southwest Florida as the administration announced governments and other entities will be able to apply for full reimbursement costs on debris removal, emergency overtime and temporary repairs for 60 days, double the normal allowed timeframe.

He met with DeSantis and other leaders after seeing the disaster-struck region from the skies. There, DeSantis noted the rapid strides made in restoring basic utilities.

“We now have over 97% of power in Florida,” DeSantis said, noting a surge of thousands of linemen who came into the state as soon as it was safe to do so.

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis noted the launch through Volunteer Florida of the Florida Disaster Fund, which as of Tuesday had raised upward of $35 million.

Gov. DeSantis said Florida felt “fortunate to have good coordination” with both FEMA and with the White House from the start of the disaster. To date, Florida has reported 2,500 rescues and set up 28 state-run distribution sites for resources, which to date have given out 45 million gallons of water and 2 million pounds of ice.

He thanked FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell for cutting through bureaucracy. And he thanked the community for banding together following the broad trauma.

“The spirit of the people of this state and southwest Florida has been phenomenal,” he said.

U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Republicans who also have demonstrated presidential ambitions, also participated in the briefing. So did U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican whose district took the brunt of flooding and storm force winds. Lee County Commission Chairman Cecile Pendergrass, also a Republican, rode with Biden on an Osprey helicopter to see the area.

DeSantis told Biden that while plenty of damage can be viewed from the sky, even more becomes apparent during a walking tour of the barrier islands. At ground level, the number of blue tarps on roofs and rubble on the ground brings the message home.

But Biden said it did not take much to see the community had been devastated.

“I’m sure it’s much worse (on) the ground,” Biden said, “but you can see a hell of a lot from the air.”

FEMA will open three new disaster centers in Lee County, Biden said. In meetings with local officials and with individuals impacted by the storm who met briefly with Biden at Fisherman’s Wharf, the President said he knew many waited on the phone for hours to speak with government representatives.

“We’re going to try to speed that up by having additional personnel,” Biden promised.

“You can’t go back to what it was before. You got to build back better.”

He also urged patience.

“You have my commitment,” he said, “that we’re not going to leave.”

The political makeup of elected officials revealed a little about Biden’s popularity — or lack thereof — within Southwest Florida. Pool reports of Biden’s motorcade passing a mix of citizens alternately taking selfies and displaying their middle fingers helped reinforce impressions.

But DeSantis said the community also welcomes help in an hour of need.

“The spirit of the people of this state and Southwest Florida has been phenomenal,” DeSantis said.

He told Biden nothing will stop efforts on Florida’s end of working cooperatively with the administration.

“Welcome to Florida,” he told the President. “We appreciate working together.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


7 comments

  • The Real Tom

    October 5, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    Tropical 2 swirling ocean typhooncane…

  • Tom

    October 5, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    State craft meets stage craft.

    Legendary mayor and ex Dem big city boss, Richard J Daley of Chicago would say, “good government is good politics”.

    POTUS needed to demonstrate that we are one country, and by doing so he helps bring some independents along. America’s Gov needed to win as great as commitment as possible, and he apparently did for his state. Extending the declaration for debris and hotel access. M

    It was a mutual win. Governor received the opportunity to stand before the podium with the presidential seal. POTUS was able to list all the monies and programs he is making available.

    I have referenced several times the many mistakes this WH, POTUS and his staff made 2 years ago in reference to Covid and the Gov. These clowns made Ron, America’s Gov.

    The contrast today was stunning, 35 years in age difference. DeSantis got his presidential seal of good housekeeping, some guys just get all the personal breaks. One month from Election Day.

    Be assured POTUS and his WH team took measure of the man, and they know they have a fist full in two years, if Gov is the nominee,

    Very Helpful day for Florida citizens regardless.
    Good state craft and stage craft.

    • Joe Corsin

      October 5, 2022 at 6:02 pm

      It other words.. good bullshit. You people eat it up.

    • Fat Cammack

      October 5, 2022 at 6:36 pm

      You gonna vote for me baby doll? I’ll still give you a bare unwiped ass face sit if you keep me in mind. Don’t forget about my fat ass! 🍩💋

    • Tjb

      October 6, 2022 at 12:46 pm

      Florida had more Covid deaths on a per capita basis than New York and California. Florida should be significantly lower because we are the outdoors and sun shine states, two important factors that would reduce the likelihood of having Covid and Covid deaths.
      California and New York , two states that DeSantis and Pushaw would mock for their Covid policies, took their direction from the White House. Thank god that they care more for the lives of their citizens than …

  • Yrral

    October 5, 2022 at 9:11 pm

    A fool and his money soon parted ,the US has allocated 1.5 billion dollars a month to Ukraine,too fund their budget,while these are your tax dollars,and lots of you will be denied relief while you fund Ukraine corrupt government Google 12 Billion Dollars Ukraine Aid

    • Elliott Offen

      October 6, 2022 at 1:54 pm

      Government under Donald Trump was corrupt…yet you paid taxes and voted for the idiot. Now you pay so secret service can protect the fat crook. Maybe we need a special military operation against you clowns. Take every penny from you.

Comments are closed.


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