President Joe Biden praised Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ response to Hurricane Ian as “pretty remarkable” during a Wednesday visit to southwest Florida.
The President and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Fort Myers on Wednesday to survey the damage left behind by the monster storm that hit Florida last week.
“What the governor’s done is pretty remarkable,” Biden said during the press conference, before adding, “I think he’s done a good job.”
The President said that while he and DeSantis “have very different political philosophies”, they’ve been “in complete lockstep” “in dealing with this crisis”, according to reports.
On Wednesday, DeSantis along with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary, Jared W. Perdue, announced the early completion of emergency road and bridge repairs for Pine Island.
On Sunday, Governor DeSantis directed FDOT to work with Lee County to expedite work and complete repairs by Saturday, October 8. Work began on Monday and FDOT crews worked hard to finish the repairs in monumental timing – less than three days.
“Within 24 hours after I asked FDOT to get involved, we had more than 130 trucks rolling in and crews got to work,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We made it a priority and we didn’t just get it done – we got it done quick. I want to thank the dedicated FDOT crews for working around the clock to restore the community’s access to Pine Island.”
In the news: Florida Gov. DeSantis And Challenger Charlie Crist Debate Postponed
“Hundreds of loads of sand and rock, various pieces of heavy equipment, and dedicated crew members have literally helped pave the way to recovery for this community. The Department was honored to be called to help support Florida’s communities in their greatest time of need,” said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “We are proud to have worked alongside our partners, Lee County, and deliver on our promise of reconnecting this community to the mainland as quickly as we possibly could.”
Hurricane Ian completely devastated the area and cut off access from the mainland to this barrier island, which prevented necessary services and supplies from being driven directly into the community. FDOT and Lee County expedited emergency repairs to the road and bridges that provide motorists access to Pine Island.
With construction complete, emergency personnel, utility trucks, and FDOT’s Cut and Toss crews now have access to make the island safe and secure for the 9,000 residents of Pine Island to soon begin returning to their homes and start their recovery.
Once immediate recovery efforts have subsided, permanent repairs to the Pine Island Bridge will be constructed. While the permanent replacement is expected to take some time to complete, the work completed this week provides safe and immediate access.
Prior to the visit from Biden, DeSantis said that he would discuss with state Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie possible areas for requesting more federal assistance from the Biden administration.
“If there is more FEMA can do, we’ll put that in,” DeSantis said during an appearance in Fort Myers.
After Biden’s visit to Florida on Wednesday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell announced that Biden made additional disaster assistance available to the state of Florida by authorizing an increase in the level of federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures undertaken in the state of Florida as a result of Hurricane Ian beginning Sept. 23, 2022, and continuing.
The President extended the time period for 100% federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance under public assistance, for an additional 30-day period. This extends the initial federal funding at 100% authorized on Sept. 29, 2022, for total eligible costs, including direct federal assistance under public assistance, for a period of 60 days from the start of the incident period.