Biden Visits Florida After Hurricane Ian Says “Ends Discussion” On Climate Crisis

Joe Biden has called for action to deal with the climate crisis after seeing the damage Hurricane Ian did to Florida from a helicopter. Hurricane Ian was one of the strongest storms in U.S. history.

When the US president went to Fort Myers, where most of the damage was done, he shook hands with Ron DeSantis, the right-leaning governor of Florida who has been talked about as a possible opponent in the 2024 election. This was meant to show that the two men were working together.

But Biden did say something pointed about how climate change will affect America. This was different from what DeSantis had done before, which was to avoid the term and call such worries “left-wing stuff.”

“More fires have burned in the west and the south-west, burned everything right to the ground, than in the entire state of New Jersey, as much room as that takes up,” the president said. “The reservoirs out west here are down to almost zero. We’re in a situation where the Colorado River looks more like a stream.

“There’s a lot going on, and I think the one thing this has finally ended is a discussion about whether or not there’s climate change, and [that] we should do something about it.

Behind the president’s left shoulder, DeSantis moved his feet a little and blinked, but his face was expressionless.

Nearly 400,000 homes and businesses are still without electricity in Florida after the hurricane slammed into the state with gusts of 150 mph (240 km/h) and a brutal storm surge. At least 84 people have been officially confirmed dead, but the unofficial death toll is above 100 and continuing to rise.

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Biden Visits Florida After Hurricane Ian

In Fort Myers, a region severely damaged by winds and swollen tides, Biden visited with locals, small-business owners, and officials in charge of disaster aid. Inland, far from their customary moorings, enormous yachts and other boats were tossed around and left capsized. In the midst of a landscape covered in dirt and rubble, homes and businesses at Fisherman’s Wharf in Fort Myers are in ruins.

He said: “When you walk around here, what’s left of Fishermans Wharf, you don’t have to have much of an imagination to understand that everything – this historic, titanic and unimaginable storm just ripped it to pieces. You got to start from scratch and move again and it’s going to take a lot of time, not weeks or months, it’s going to take years for everything to get squared away in the state of Florida to fully recover and rebuild.”

The president, a Democrat, mentioned that DeSantis, Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and Congressman Byron Donalds, all Republicans, were present.

“Today we have one job and one task only, and that is to make sure the people of Florida receive all they require in order to properly, completely recover,” said Biden. We are one of the few countries in the world that, based on the crises we experience, are the only country to emerge stronger than when we entered.

“And that’s we’re going to do this time around, come out of it better, because this is a United States of America. And I emphasise united. We’ve seen extraordinary cooperation at every level of government.”

A similar bipartisan tone was earlier sounded by DeSantis, a longstanding opponent of Biden. He expressed gratitude to the First Lady Jill Biden and the President for travelling to survey the “severe” damage. According to him, “We were really lucky to have fantastic cooperation with White House and with Fema [Federal Emergency Management Agency] from the very beginning of this.”

The governor also stated that more than 2,500 rescues had been made since the hurricane, nearly 100,000 buildings had been checked, and 45 million bottles of water and 2 million pounds of ice had been provided. Power has been restored to more than 97% of the state.

DeSantis specifically thanked the administrator of Fema, Deanne Criswell. He declared, “We are slicing through the red tape. “We value the team’s effort. People in this state and southwest Florida have an incredible spirit.

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As prior office holders Jeb Bush and Rick Scott can attest, a hurricane response is a rite-of-passage test for any Florida governor and their capacity to work with the federal government.

Despite their disagreements on a number of topics, including the climate catastrophe, which experts attribute to Florida’s increasingly powerful hurricanes, DeSantis and Biden duly reached a brief truce.

Biden oversaw the passage of a historic $430 billion climate action bill, the largest in history, while DeSantis opposed some previous disaster relief aid and pushed pension funds to stop taking environmental impact into account when making investment decisions, even though he supported funding to strengthen Florida’s flood defences.

Later, reporters questioned Biden over DeSantis’ management of the recovery effort. I believe he did a good job, he retorted. Look, when I learned that this storm was approaching, I called him—possibly even before he called me. We collaborated closely despite having extremely different political ideas and working together. And he’s been on – on matters pertaining to handling this issue, we’ve been in total agreement. There hasn’t been a change.

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DeSantis has also raised his profile nationally by opposing lockdowns due to the coronavirus, fining Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando for disagreeing with state laws restricting discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, and flying immigrants from Venezuela from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

DeSantis also asserted that the “national regime media” wanted Hurricane Ian to hit the Tampa Bay region because “they believed it’d be worse for Florida” in an interview with a right media outlet on Tuesday.

DeSantis is the second-most popular candidate for the Republican nomination in 2024, behind only former president Donald Trump, according to the majority of polls. He is thirty years younger than Trump and Biden at 44.

The length of time that the federal government will fully pay the expense of clearing debris, supplying food and water, and maintaining shelters has been increased from 30 days to 60, the White House stated on Wednesday.

Biden travelled to Puerto Rico on Monday, a US territory that was recently devastated by Hurricane Fiona.

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