U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy listen on Feb. 7, 2023 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)
Although no details have been officially announced, President Joe Biden said Thursday that he’ll visit Florida Saturday following Hurricane Idalia’s blast into the Big Bend area earlier this week.
The announcement came from the president himself at the end of an exchange with reporters after his visit to the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington.
“By the way, I am going to Florida,” the president said after he was asked if he would travel to the Sunshine State to observe the damage from the storm and the recovery efforts now underway. “I’m going to Florida Saturday morning.”
Earlier on Thursday, the president declared that a major disaster exists in Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in Citrus, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Suwanee, and Taylor counties. That allows people in those areas to access grants for temporary housing and home repairs while the state can receive funding assistance for debris removal and hazard mitigation.
Biden joked with reporters that he had again spoken with Gov. Ron DeSantis to give him that news.
“This morning, I spoke again — we’re — it seems like we — there should be a direct dial, the two of us — Gov. DeSantis and I. We spoke again this morning, and I let him know that I approved his major disaster declaration,” he said.
DeSantis is running for the Republican nomination for president this year and has often been critical of the president. But this is not the first time they have worked constructively on disaster relief. Last September, Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited Fort Myers to assess the damage from Hurricane Ian. In 2021, Biden met with the governor following the deadly condo collapse in Surfside.
The White House has not released any information as of early Thursday evening about a Biden visit to Florida.
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