WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke by telephone Thursday morning to discuss the next steps in the federal response to Hurricane Ian.
Biden formally issued a disaster declaration Thursday morning and told DeSantis that he was dispatching Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell to Florida on Friday to check in on response efforts and to gauge where additional support will be needed.
Biden detailed later Thursday during an appearance at FEMA headquarters in Washington that his OK of the Florida governor’s request for an expedited disaster declaration meant that the federal government would cover 100% of the costs associated with clearing debris and saving lives.
The president said that he had instructed mayors from across the state to call the White House directly to report their needs for any resources.
“At times like this America comes together,” Biden said, adding that he hopes to visit Florida to thank emergency workers , once it can be ensured that a presidential visit wouldn’t “get in the way,” and was committed to seeing Florida built back “as quickly as possible.”
Living With Climate Change: Lost Sanibel causeway and ‘reversed’ Tampa Bay: Why Ian will rank among worst hurricanes in Florida history
Officials at Tampa International Airport tweeted that damage assessments are underway there and that they hope to have an update later Thursday on plans to reopen.
Biden, in his FEMA appearance, reassured the people of Puerto Rico that the federal government has not backed away from its commitment to post–Hurricane Fiona recovery efforts amid the disaster in Florida.
Biden said it’s also “my intention” to visit Puerto Rico.
Biden, in response to a reporter’s question during the FEMA visit, said that he and DeSantis had spoken “four, five times” about the Hurricane Ian response and that his relationship with DeSantis — widely believed to harbor near-term presidential ambitions — is “totally irrelevant” to the matter at hand but that their interactions have been “very fine.”
“This is not about anything having to do with our disagreements politically,” Biden said. “This is about saving people’s lives, homes and businesses. That’s what this is about.”