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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Biden stresses need to prepare for more climate disasters like Hurricane Idalia, Maui fires in speech today

President Biden on Wednesday stressed the need to rebuild a more resilient American infrastructure, as Hurricane Idalia batters Florida and Georgia. No one, he said, can “deny the impact of the climate crisis anymore.”

In a press conference at the White House, the president emphasized the importance of rebuilding a “stronger” Maui in the wake of the island’s devastating wildfires, and suggested that infrastructure improvements made during the Obama-Biden years are benefiting Florida now. Hurricane Idalia, which hit Florida’s Big Bend coast as a Category 3 hurricane, has since weakened and left the state, but not without dumping heavy rain and rising storm surges on vulnerable communities.

“I don’t think anybody can deny the impact of the climate crisis anymore,” the president said, flanked by top emergency management personnel. “Just look around. Historic floods, I mean historic floods. More intense droughts. Extreme heat. Significant wildfires that have caused significant damage like we’ve never seen before, not only throughout the Hawaiian islands in the United States but in Canada and other parts of the world. We’ve never seen this much fire.”

For DeSantis, Hurricane Idalia comes at a critical point in his campaign

On Wednesday, the president announced $95 million from the bipartisan infrastructure bill is heading to Maui to “harden the grid” there. That means rebuilding the island with stronger materials and burying power lines underground, he said. The Department of Energy accelerated the funding to meet the island’s needs and help Hawaii better withstand future disasters, he said.

“As an example of our commitment, we’re not only building back, but we’re going to build back a stronger and more resilient future, which means we need to be able to withstand any challenge coming our way in rebuilding the way Maui wants to rebuild,” Mr. Biden said.

During the Obama-Biden administration, Mr. Biden said they worked to replace poles and bury lines in Florida. DeSantis in 2019 also signed a bill meant to lead to more underground power lines in his state.

“Well I wonder what would happen now if we hadn’t done that … but the point is, we did it,” he said.

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