Biden in Florida promises to rebuild, calls on Congress to provide more FEMA funding


View of a damaged property after the arrival of Hurricane Idalia in Horseshoe Beach, Florida, August 31, 2023.

Julio Cesar Chavez | Reuters

President Joe Biden standing in front of a home damaged by a fallen tree said it was “but for the grace of God” the damage wasn’t worse.

“No winds this strong hit this area in one hundred years,” Biden said, speaking in Live Oak, Florida. “Pray God that this will not happen again for another 100 years,” Biden said in Live Oak, Florida. Biden and Jill Biden visited Florida on Saturday, to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia. They also met with locals and personnel involved in recovery efforts. The president said he’s directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to do “everything they can” to help rebuild.

Idalia hit Florida’s Big Bend region on Wednesday as a Category 3 storm, leading to widespread power outages and flooding. The White House is asking Congress for $16 billion to replenish FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which will run out in the first half September if not replenished. Biden, speaking in Florida on Saturday, called again for Congress to act.

“These crises affect more Americans and they expect FEMA to be there when needed,” Biden stated. “I am calling on both Democrats and Republicans in the United States Congress to make sure that the funding is available. In a statement released Friday night, Jeremy Redfern, a spokesman for DeSantis said that the governor had no plans to meet the president, citing security difficulties. In a statement Friday night, however, Jeremy Redfern, a spokesman for DeSantis, said the governor did not have plans to meet with the president, citing security difficulties.

“In these rural communities, and so soon after impact, the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts,” Redfern said.

Speaking to reporters en route to Florida, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said the White House and governor’s office mutually agreed on the location for Biden’s visit earlier this week and said no security concerns were voiced at that time or before the statement from DeSantis’s office was released.

DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, has been a strong critic of Biden, but the two have come together in the past. Biden and DeSantis met after Hurricane Ian in 2017. “