WASHINGTON — President Biden said he was in “complete lock step” with Gov. Ron DeSantis during a visit to southwest Florida that amounted to a moment of détente between political rivals to pledge federal resources for those seeking to rebuild from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian.
After surveilling by helicopter the destruction that is expected to total billions of dollars, Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, joined Mr. DeSantis and his wife, Casey, to speak to residents and emergency workers in Fisherman’s Wharf. The president and Mr. DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate for the Republican Party, then stood side-by-side as they committed to working together to support families who had homes damaged or washed away by the hurricane.
“Today, we have one job and only one job, and that’s to make sure that people in Florida get everything they need to fully, thoroughly recover,” Mr. Biden said. “We have a long road ahead of us,” he added, promising “we’re not going to leave” the state and the recovery efforts.
During his visit, the White House approved Florida’s request to extend federal disaster assistance for debris removal and emergency protective services in the state by an additional 30 days, to a total of 60 days. He also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration would continue to help Floridians with temporary housing and financial support.
Speaking before the president, Mr. DeSantis listed evidence of rebuilding underway, noting that a temporary bridge to Pine Island, a barrier island that had lost access to the mainland, had been completed. Locals had clamored for a temporary solution after days of transporting people and supplies by boat.
“You can go over it in a helicopter, and you can see damage, but it does not do it justice until you are actually on the ground,” Mr. DeSantis said. The president and first lady took an hourlong surveying flight over the area before they began touring the Fort Myers area by ground.
Mr. DeSantis also expressed gratitude to the president.
“We are cutting through the red tape, and that’s from local government, state government, all the way up to the president, so we appreciate the team effort,” he said.
After his prepared remarks, Mr. Biden emphasized his close collaboration with Mr. DeSantis.
“We have very different political philosophies, but we’ve worked hand in glove,” Biden said. “In dealing with this crisis, we’ve been in complete lock step.”