Biden to visit Fort Myers, meet DeSantis on Ian – Orlando Sentinel

President Biden will travel to Fort Myers on Wednesday to speak with victims and tour the damage caused by Hurricane Ian, the White House announced Tuesday, a trip that will include a meeting with constant critic Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis .

“Governor DeSantis, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and other state and local officials will also provide the President with an operational briefing on current response and recovery efforts,” said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. during a briefing in Washington.

The president will not discuss with the governor his recent flight of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard or any other of their many disagreements, Jean-Pierre said.

“There will be plenty of time to discuss the differences between the president and the governor, but now is not the time,” she said in response to a reporter’s question. …”When it comes to delivering and making sure Florida residents have what they need, especially after Hurricane Ian, we work together.”

DeSantis said Tuesday he would meet Biden during his visit, and he expects the president to survey the damage from the air, although he is unsure of his plans.

DeSantis, who is reportedly considering running for president in 2024, has been relentless in criticizing Biden over his immigration policies and inflation, among other things. He mocked the president by calling him “Brandon”, a reference to a vulgarity.

But since the storm hit a week ago, DeSantis said Florida and the federal government have been working well together and he appreciates the help from the Biden administration.

The Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds landed in Lee County last weekend. It killed at least 102 people in Florida, with 55 dead in Lee County alone, CNN reported. The number includes deaths officially recognized by the state and others reported by local authorities.

At a press conference in Fort Myers, DeSantis said four looters were arrested in Lee County and three of those people were in the country illegally.

“They’re strangers,” DeSantis said. “They are illegally in our country, and not only that, they are trying to loot and ransack following a natural disaster. They should be prosecuted, but they should be sent back to their country of origin. They shouldn’t be here at all.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno also highlighted the arrests and warned that looting would not be tolerated.

The state has opened a disaster recovery center in Fort Myers and is working to restore bridges to barrier islands, DeSantis said.

DeSantis also activated an emergency loan program for small businesses impacted by Ian, making $50 million available to 22 counties.

In addition to the hardest hit Southwest Florida, businesses in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Volusia counties will be eligible.

On Tuesday, Biden traveled to Puerto Rico to witness his recovery from Hurricane Fiona, which hit the island Sept. 18. The president promised that the federal government would work hard to help the island.

He also acknowledged Puerto Rico’s struggles to get funds from Washington after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. He vowed to do better.

“I am determined to help Puerto Rico build faster than in the past and stronger, better prepared for the future,” Biden said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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