Biden says he will visit Florida this weekend to survey Idalia damage: 'Our nation has your back'

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An aerial view shows a police vehicle driving along a flooded street in New Port Richey, Florida, after Hurricane Idalia made landfall, Aug. 30, 2023.

Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden made a surprise trip to the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters Thursday, where he announced he would be traveling to Florida on Saturday to survey the damage after Hurricane Idalia.

“Showing up for the moment to save the lives is critically important, but that’s just the beginning … and some of it’s going to take months and years to make sure we restore the people to the circumstances there before this disaster hit,” Biden said at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. “And to the people of Florida, and throughout the southeast, I’m here to make it clear that our nation has your back.”

Biden spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis twice Thursday and with FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, who is in the state.

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Idalia made landfall Wednesday morning as a Category 3 hurricane but has since weakened to a tropical storm. As of Thursday afternoon, at least three people were dead, and hundreds of thousands were left without power.

Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall said later that the president will be visiting the areas more affected by Idalia.

“We won’t know the full extent of the damage done for several days,” Sherwood-Randall said, adding the main destruction was from flooding due to storm surge. “What we do know is that we will stay there as long as it takes.”