US President Joe Biden speaks in a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Ian at Fishermans Pass in Fort Myers, Florida, on October 5, 2022 as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looks on.
Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden, standing side by side with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, promised the federal government can be there for the state because it rebuilds from Hurricane Ian and steels itself against future storms.
“There’s quite a bit happening and I feel the one thing this has finally ended is the query of whether or not there’s climate change and we must always do something about it,” Biden said during remarks in Fort Myers, adding the people of Florida have been in his and first lady Jill Biden’s prayers.
“We’re not leaving. We’re not leaving until this gets done. I promise you that,” the president said.
Prior to the speech, Biden surveyed areas ravaged by the storm, was briefed by officials on the bottom and met with locals and small business owners affected by the hurricane.
Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm every week ago, before moving up the eastern U.S. coast. The storm has reportedly killed greater than 80 people, though that number is anticipated to rise as floodwaters recede and rescue teams access latest areas.
Each Biden and DeSantis said they’ve seen strong collaboration between different levels of presidency in response to the storm.
“I feel he’s done an excellent job,” Biden said when asked about DeSantis’s response to the storm.
Speaking before Biden, DeSantis said, “We’re cutting through bureaucracy, we’re cutting through red tape,” in an effort to reply to the storm.
The president and governor stood side by side after DeSantis for months played political foil to Biden. The Republican is taken into account a top 2024 Republican presidential contender.
Ahead of Biden’s visit to Florida, the White House said a natural disaster shouldn’t be the time to play politics. Biden and his administration have been involved with DeSantis throughout the storm and vowed to send whatever aid the state needed.
The collaboration comes a month after DeSantis chartered two planes and flew about 50 migrants under false pretenses from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, a move the White House chided as a theatrical stunt that used people as political pawns. Days later, DeSantis stoked rumors that a second planeload of migrants can be sent to a small airport near Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The plane never got here.
Biden, amid the reports, said he welcomed DeSantis to Rehoboth.
“He should come visit. We’ve got a gorgeous shoreline,” he said on the time.
In Florida on Wednesday, Biden praised DeSantis’ response and his acknowledgement of the role climate change has played in hurricanes.
“What the governor’s done is pretty remarkable,” Biden said. “To begin with, the most important thing the governor has done and so many others have done is recognizing a thing called global warming. The world is changing. It’s changing. And we’ve got to alter.”
The storm is shaping as much as be the costliest Florida hurricane since Andrew in 1992, with wind and storm surge damage estimated to be between $28 billion and $47 billion.