President Biden visited southwest Florida to see the devastation of Hurricane Ian as the scale of the loss — of lives and livelihoods — is still coming into focus. State and local officials have so far announced more than 100 storm-related deaths, while the damage is likely to be in the tens of billions of dollars. “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.
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The storm seemed to have briefly paused the unrelenting bluster of politics, as Mr. Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and a frequent critic of the president, appeared together at a news conference in the Fort Myers area. “We have very different political philosophies, but we’ve worked hand in glove,” Mr. Biden said. “In dealing with this crisis, we’ve been in complete lock step.”
Destroyed communities are coming to grips with a recovery that will “go on for years.” The White House announced that it would fulfill a request from the Florida government to extend the period of time the federal government would fully fund debris removal and emergency response efforts. The funding will last for 60 days rather than 30 days.
As Mr. Biden visits a conservative part of the state, which voted for former President Donald J. Trump by wide margins, the devastation left by the storm reinforced long-held political positions.
While in Congress, Mr. DeSantis voted against aid after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but pivoted to petition help as a governor.