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Biden to travel to Florida on Saturday to visit areas hit by Hurricane Idalia

Washington — President Biden will visit Florida on Saturday after Hurricane Idalia slammed the state’s Big Bend region on the Gulf Coast, he said Thursday.

Mr. Biden announced the trip while visiting FEMA headquarters to thank emergency personnel for aiding the responses to the Maui wildfires and Hurricane Idalia. He did not give additional details about the trip.

Homeland Security adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall said during the White House press briefing that Mr. Biden will visit the areas most impacted by the hurricane.

The president spoke with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, earlier Thursday to discuss federal assistance tied to Hurricane Idalia, the White House said. The two also spoke Wednesday.

When asked whether Mr. Biden would be meeting with DeSantis while there, Sherwood-Randall said the visit is still being planned, but noted the two previously met when the president has traveled there in the aftermath of previous disasters.

“They are very collegial when we have the work to do together of helping Americans in need, citizens of Florida in need,” she said.

Mr. Biden also called on Congress to replenish FEMA’s disaster fund, which could dry up within weeks and delay the federal response to natural disasters.

“We can’t wait,” Mr. Biden said.

Days before Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told “Face the Nation” that the emergency funds could be depleted by the middle of September, delaying recovery projects.

Idalia made landfall Wednesday morning on Florida’s Gulf Coast as a powerful Category 3 hurricane, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and flooding.

Mr. Biden recently traveled to Hawaii to survey the damage caused by the wildfires on Maui and meet with victims.

“It’s just pure devastation,” he said Thursday. “That whole part of the island is just leveled. There’s nothing left.”

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