Hurricane Ian ‘ends talk’ on climate crisis, Biden says during Florida visit | Joe Biden

Joe Biden has urged action to tackle the climate crisis after inspecting the devastation caused in Florida by helicopter by helicopter. Hurricane Ianone of the strongest storms in American history.

Visiting Fort Myers, which suffered the brunt of the damage, the US president shook hands and ostensibly formed a united front with Ron DeSantis, Florida’s right-wing governor billed as a potential challenger in the 2024 elections.

But Biden made a pointed comment about the impact of climate change on America that contrasted with DeSantis, who had previously shunned the term and dismissed concerns such as “left stuff”.

“More fires have burned in the West and Southwest, all scorched to the ground, than in the entire state of New Jersey, as much space as it takes,” the president said. “The reservoirs to the west here are near zero. We’re in a situation where the Colorado River is more like a stream.

“There’s a lot going on, and I think the only thing that’s finally ended is a discussion about whether or not there’s climate change, and [that] we should do something about it.

DeSantis, standing behind the president’s left shoulder, shifted his feet slightly and blinked but remained expressionless.

At least 84 people are confirmed dead, although the unofficial toll is greater than 100 and continues to rise, and nearly 400,000 homes and businesses remain without power in Florida after the hurricane slammed into the state with 150 mph (240 km/h) winds and a punishing storm surge .

Biden met with locals, residents, small business owners and disaster relief officials in Fort Myers, an area devastated by winds and rising tides. Huge yachts and other boats were tossed and capsized inland, far from their usual moorings. Homes and businesses at Fisherman’s Wharf in Fort Myers were left in ruins amid a landscape of dirt and debris.

He said:When you walk around here, what remains of Fishermans Wharf, you don’t need much imagination to realize that everything – this historic, titanic and unimaginable storm has just ripped it to pieces. You have to start from scratch and move again and it’s going to take a long time, not weeks or months, it’s going to take years to get everything sorted out in the state of Florida to fully recover and rebuild.

The president, a Democrat, noted he was joined by DeSantis, Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and Congressman Byron Donalds – all Republicans.

Biden added, “Today we have one job and one job, and that is to make sure the people of Florida get everything they need to make a full and complete recovery. We are one of the few countries in the world that, based on the crises we face, is the only country that is doing better than we came in.

“And that’s what we’re going to do this time, come out better, because this is the United States of America. And I insist on unity. We have seen extraordinary cooperation at all levels of government.

Joe Biden hugs a resident of Fort Myers Beach. Photography: Evan Vucci/AP

Earlier, DeSantis, a longtime Biden critic, struck an equally bipartisan note. He thanked the president and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, for coming to inspect the “extensive” damage. “We were very lucky to have good coordination with the White House and with Fema [Federal Emergency Management Agency] from the start,” he said.

The governor added that since the hurricane, more than 2,500 rescues have been carried out and nearly 100,000 structures searched, while 45 million bottles of water and 2 million pounds of ice have been distributed. Over 97% of the state has had power restored.

DeSantis expressed special gratitude to Deanne Criswell, the Fema administrator. “We are reducing bureaucracy,” he said. “We appreciate the team effort. The spirit of the people of this state and of Southwest Florida has been phenomenal.

The hurricane response is a rite of passage test of any Florida governor and their ability to coordinate with the federal government, as former office holders Jeb Bush and Rick Scott can attest.

DeSantis duly reached a temporary truce with Biden as they disagreed on numerous issues, including the climate crisis, which experts blame for Florida’s increasingly intense hurricanes.

Biden oversaw the passage of a landmark $430 billion climate action bill, the largest in history, while DeSantis, while backing funding to strengthen Florida’s defenses against floods, opposed some past disaster relief aid and pushed pension funds to ignore environmental impact when investing.

Later, reporters asked Biden how DeSantis handled the recovery effort. He replied, “I think he did a good job. Listen, I called him – I think even before he called me, when I heard that storm was on the way. We worked hand in hand, we have very different political philosophies, and – but we worked hand in hand. And he’s been on – on things related to handling this crisis, we’ve been completely in tune. There was no difference.

DeSantis has also gained national profile by rejecting coronavirus lockdowns, penalize Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando for opposing state laws limiting the discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, and rob venezuelan immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

And in a interview with conservative media On Tuesday, DeSantis claimed that the “national diet media” wanted Hurricane Ian to hit the Tampa Bay area “because they thought it would be worse for Florida.”

In most opinion polls, DeSantis is just behind former President Donald Trump as Republican voters’ top choice for the 2024 nomination. At 44, he is three decades younger than Trump and Biden.

The White House announced on Wednesday that it was doubling from 30 days to 60 the time the federal government would cover the full cost of clearing debris, distributing food and water and supporting shelters.

Monday, Biden visited Puerto Ricoa US territory battered by Hurricane Fiona last month.

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