By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his leadership in overseeing recovery efforts after the devastation created by Hurricane Ian.
After surveying areas damaged by the hurricane, President Biden met with the governor and state and local officials. At a news conference, he praised Gov. DeSantis’ management of recovery efforts, saying, “What the governor has done is pretty remarkable.”
While he and the governor have differed politically, he said, “Today, we have one job, and only one job. And that’s to make sure that people in Florida get everything that they need to fully, thoroughly recover.”
Despite criticism he’d received for not reaching out to Gov. DeSantis for days before and at the beginning of the storm, he claimed to be working in “lockstep” with him. He said, “We worked hand in glove, we have very different political philosophies, but we worked hand in glove. And he’s been on top of things related to dealing with this crisis. We’ve been completely lockstep.”
Gov. DeSantis also thanked the president, saying, “We were very fortunate to have good coordination with the White House and with FEMA from the very beginning of this,” noting that FEMA quickly approved a major disaster declaration and subsequent disaster funding has been made available to Florida. FEMA also extended the time period to a total of 60 days for Florida to apply for 100% federal funding for damages caused by the hurricane.
Nearly 4,000 federal employees are helping with recovery efforts in Florida. Through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, more than 1,800 personnel from 26 states have deployed to Florida to assist with recovery efforts.
There have been 2,500 rescues made as of Wednesday, the governor’s office said, with more than 1,000 team members performing search and rescue. Safe and found persons can be reported safe here.
As of Wednesday night, there are currently 298,820 reported power outages. Workers have restored power to nearly 2.4 million accounts statewide or 88.92% of accounts restored since the peak.
So far, more than $35 million has been donated to the Florida Disaster Fund to provide assistance to Floridians in need.
The Florida Department of Emergency Management has distributed more than 11.5 million MREs and 41 million bottles of water so far. It’s been working with volunteer kitchens throughout the state. On Tuesday, more than 410,800 people were served. Since the volunteer kitchens have been opened, more than 936,100 hot meals have been served.