By Jessica Easthope
President Biden and the First Lady are pledging their support and the federal government’s resources, extending the Federal Disaster Declaration in the wake of Hurricane Ian, which left more than 100 people dead and parts of southwest Florida unrecognizable.
“This historic, titanic and unimaginable storm just ripped it to pieces, you gotta start from scratch, move again and it’s going to take a lot of time, not weeks or months but years,” the president said.
On Wednesday, after touching down in Fort Myers, the president got an operation briefing from federal, state and local officials on the response and recovery efforts. Teams have rescues nearly 4,000.
“We’re one of the few nations in the world that on the basis of a crisis we face, we’re the only nation that comes out of it better than we went into it,” he said.
The President and First Lady met with small business owners and residents impacted by the hurricane. At its peak more than 2.5 million people were without power, now the number is closer to 300,000, utilities are still not fully restored.
“Give me water,” said resident Cindy Walton. “I don’t need a light, I don’t need a TV, I don’t need anything. I need to be able to charge my phone which I’m able to do, thankfully, but I need water.”
The President’s visit put him face to face with Governor Ron Desantis, a prominent republican critic. Despite the looming midterm elections, the two put politics aside and focused on storm recovery.
“Today we have one job and only one job, and that’s to make sure the people of Florida get everything they need to fully and thoroughly recover,” said President Biden.
President Biden has pledged the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cleanup cost in the counties hardest hit for at least the next 60 days.