During post-storm tour, Biden praises Florida residents for their 'remarkable' spirit
When visiting Live Oak in northern Florida on Saturday, President Biden and first wife Jill Biden saw the devastation caused by Hurricane Idalia firsthand.
One of the hardest devastated locations, the city is about an hour's drive north of where the hurricane made landfall early on Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 miles per hour.
After doing an aerial and ground tour of the affected area and meeting with first responders and those directly impacted by the disaster, Vice President Biden told a gathering of bystanders and reporters that the community's resilience "is remarkable."
"When people are in real trouble, the most important thing you can give them is hope," the president remarked. Hope is found when "someone comes in to offer help," whether it be a neighbor from across the street, a local priest, or anybody else.
The storm pushed inland, leaving in its wake a path of destruction including flooded fields, washed out roads, and uprooted trees. Many houses along the Suwannee River were destroyed or severely damaged by the storm surge, and entire neighborhoods were wiped out by the flooding.
Moody's predicts Idalia will cost Florida and Georgia between $12 and $20 billion in damage, however the government has not yet given an early tally of the storm's destruction.
As of Saturday afternoon, 90% of power that was knocked out by Hurricane Idalia had been restored, said the state government.
In the meantime, organizations from different levels of government are working together to aid in the cleanup. Vice President Biden reassured locals that the federal government would be staying put.
He reassured the state that "we are here to help the state for as long as it takes" now that the storm had passed and they were coping with the aftermath.
The state government of Florida reported no storm-related deaths as of Saturday.
Senator Rick Scott, also a Republican, accompanied Biden and the first lady on their tour of Florida, but they did not meet with Republican governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.