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NY Post
New York Post
2 Sep 2023


NextImg:Biden visits Florida to view Idalia damage despite Ron DeSantis boycott

President Biden promised Saturday to “take care of Florida” as he travelled to the Sunshine State to review the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia — and fended off questions about its governor and GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, who has said that he would not accompany a “very disruptive” visit.

“I don’t think he’s going to be there,” Biden said of DeSantis as he headed to Air Force One. “We are going to take care of Florida.” 

Biden laughed when asked if he agreed with DeSantis that “the whole security apparatus” of his visit could hinder critical repair efforts.

“Do you?” he responded.

Biden’s planned three-hour drop-in appears to have been carefully choreographed to keep him far from the worst of the devastation.

His activities will be limited to Live Oak, Fla., 40 miles inland, where he was scheduled to take an aerial tour, hold a briefing with officials and first responders, and meet residents on the ground before heading to Rehoboth Beach, Del. for the rest of the weekend.

Gov. Ron DeSantis warned that Biden’s visit would be “disruptive.”
AP

“What we look at is operational impact” when planning a post-disaster presidential visit, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a press briefing en route to Florida.

In Live Oak, she said, “the power is being restored, the roads are all open, and access has not been hindered. And that’s why this was mutually agreed upon” with the governor’s office — contradicting DeSantis’s claim to have warned Biden off the trip.

Jill Biden accompanied the president on the flight, with Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) expected to join them on the ground.

A long line of vehicles queued up in Live Oak for food, water, and supplies distributed by the Florida National Guard, Fox Weather reported.

Splintered homes and destroyed structures in Horseshoe Beach after Hurricane Idalia moved through.

Splintered homes and destroyed structures in Horseshoe Beach after Hurricane Idalia moved through.
TNS

Farms surrounding the rural town took heavy damage, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, with barns and other agricultural buildings crumpling in place and flooded fields two days after the storm passed through.

Idalia, the largest hurricane to hit Florida’s Big Bend area in more than a century, packed fierce 125 mph winds and a monster storm surge that wreaked havoc Wednesday morning, leaving at least 500,000 residents without power and blasting a trail of damage more than 100 miles wide

But communities like Cedar Key, an island town about 90 miles southwest of Live Oak, bore the brunt of Idalia’s fury.

“Part of a whole hotel just broke apart and went into the Gulf,” Cedar Key Island resident Michael Bobbitt said Wednesday. “It’s like the Gulf is trying to swallow us up.”

Members of the National Guard assist storm-damaged business The Marina with moving and piling debris, in Horseshoe Beach on Thursday.

Members of the National Guard assist storm-damaged business The Marina with moving and piling debris, in Horseshoe Beach on Thursday.
AP

In Perry, Fla., a town 30 miles west of Live Oak that relies on the lumber industry, local resident Jerry Wells said the pine forest had been “just devastated.”

“I don’t know how many people have trees in their homes,” Wells told the Tallahassee Democrat. “It’s turning into a tarp village.”

DeSantis — who has cordially welcomed Biden to Florida following the Surfside condominium building collapse and other disasters — took a break from the presidential campaign trail to helm the recovery effort, said Friday that he expected all power to be restored to homes over the weekend.