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Biden calls on Congress to provide more funding for disaster relief after Idalia pummels Florida

President Biden visited FEMA's headquarters Thursday and called on Congress to provided for disaster relief aid after Hurricane Idalia pummeled Florida.

President Joe Biden on Thursday called on Congress to pass more disaster relief after Hurricane Idalia pummeled Florida and other southeast states. 

During a press conference from the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Biden said he will visit Florida on Saturday to see the damage himself. 

"We need this disaster relief request met, and we need it in September," after Congress returns from recess, Biden said. 

The president took aim at lawmakers who are balking at his request for $12 billion in emergency funding to respond to natural disasters, as well as climate change denialists. 


Biden said he had spoken earlier with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to approve a major disaster declaration. The president was also in contact with the governors of Georgia and the Carolinas, which were impacted by Idalia. 

DeSantis, who is running for president as a Republican candidate in the 2024 election, said the loss of life from Idalia and damage was not on par with Hurricane Ian, which hit the heavily populated Fort Myers area, leaving 149 dead in the state. 

The governor provided an update Thursday from Steinhatchee after stops in Cedar Key and Horseshoe Beach. He cited one confirmed death, from a traffic fatality in Alachua County. 

"I’m seeing a lot of damage, and I’m also seeing a lot of resiliency," DeSantis said. "We’re also working hard to assist with power restoration. As of today … 135,000 outages remain across the state. There have been 430,000 restorations since the storm first arrived in Florida yesterday." 

Idalia made landfall early Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane in the Big Bend region, with winds up to 125 mph, shredding homes, ripping off roofs, snapping tall trees, and turning streets into rivers. It later downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved north, hitting Georgia — resulting in one confirmed death — and the Carolinas. 


In Georgia’s Lowndes County, more than 24,000 homes and businesses in the county of about 120,000 people remained without electricity and residents were told to prepare for several more days without lights or air conditioning.

In South Carolina, the storm coupled with already really high tides to send seawater flowing over sand dunes in nearly every beach town, although in most places the water was only about ankle deep. 

In Charleston, Idalia's surge topped part of the seawall that protects the downtown, sending ocean water into the streets and neighborhoods where horse-drawn carriages pass million-dollar homes and the famous open-air market.

Preliminary data showed the Wednesday evening high tide reached more than 9 feet, more than 3 feet above normal and the fifth-highest reading in Charleston Harbor since records were first kept in 1899.

Bands from Idalia also brought short-lived tornadoes. One flipped a car in suburban Goose Creek, South Carolina, causing minor injuries, authorities said. No major damage was reported.

Forecasters said the weakened storm should continue heading away from the U.S. for several days, although officials in Bermuda warned that Idalia could hit the island early next week as a tropical storm.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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