Biden to visit Puerto Rico to survey Hurricane Fiona's damage




  • In Politics
  • 2022-10-03 13:37:01Z
  • By NBC News
 

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit Puerto Rico on Monday to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Fiona, the White House said.

The Bidens will travel to Ponce, where they will meet with families and community leaders and help pack bags with food and other essential items. They will also thank federal and local officials working on recovery efforts, a White House official said.

The president is also set to announce more than $60 million from the infrastructure law he signed last year to shore up levees, strengthen flood walls and create a new flood warning system ahead of future storms.

The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Deanne Criswell, will join the president and the first lady on their visit.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 18, with heavy winds and flooding that led to an islandwide power outage and at least 25 deaths, according to its health department. The storm was followed just days later by Hurricane Ian, which ripped through Florida last week, causing 83 deaths, before making its way up the East Coast to South Carolina and then North Carolina, where four people were killed, according to tallies by state officials and NBC News. Biden is set to travel to Florida on Wednesday.

Thousands of Puerto Ricans still remain without power weeks after the storm.

Search and rescue efforts are still underway in Florida, with Biden warning that Ian is "likely to rank among the worst in the nation's history."

In a speech at the White House on Friday, Biden said that it could take years to rebuild parts of Florida.

"Our hearts ... are heavy, the devastating hurricanes, storms in Puerto Rico, Florida and South Carolina. And we owe Puerto Rico a hell of a lot more than they've already gotten," he said Saturday at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner.

Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke frequently throughout the week about the storm, though they have in the past publicly sparred over a wide range of issues, including the pandemic and immigration.

Asked Friday whether Biden would want to meet personally with DeSantis while in Florida, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said "this is not about politics," comparing the situation to the Surfside condo collapse last year when the two leaders worked together in response to the tragedy.

About 615,000 households and businesses were without electricity in Florida on Monday morning, according to PowerOutage.us. Power Outages also continued in Puerto Rico, where about 120,000 residents remained without electricity Monday.

Ian, which was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, continues to bring rain to parts of the mid-Atlantic.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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