President Joe Biden highlights climate crisis after surveying the USD 20 billion damage done by Hurricane Idalia

Posting this photo on X, US President Joe Biden wrote: “I was in Live Oak today to deliver a clear message to the people of Florida and throughout the Southeast: If there’s anything your states need as you recover from Idalia, I’m ready to mobilize that relief.” Photo courtesy: X/@POTUS

The massive damage done by Hurricane Idalia could leave the United States of America holding a bill of up to USD 20 billion. The hurricane tore through the states of Florida, Georgia, and the eastern parts of South and North Carolinas.

US President Joe Biden, who visited Florida on Saturday with First Lady Jill Biden, met first responders and also assured the affected people on the social network X: “Your nation has your back, and we’ll be with you until the job is done.” At the same time, the president emphasised upon the clear impact of climate change, as evident in a series of natural calamities, of which Idalia was one.

The US president meets community members in Florida. Photo courtesy: X/@POTUS

In an open-air meet with journalists, the US president drew everyone’s attention not just to Hurricane Idalia, but also to other extreme weather events, including wildfires. Unlike his Republic predecessor Donald Trump, who is even now a climate change denier, the incumbent Democrat president drove home the message that climate change had to be fully acknowledged.

“Nobody can deny the impact of climate crisis. There’s no real intelligence to deny the impacts of the climate crisis anymore,” said Biden in Florida. “Just look around the nation and the world, for that matter. Historic floods, intense drought, extreme heat, deadly wildfires… that cause serious damage like you’ve never seen before.”

The Guardian reported that Hurricane Idalia could be “the US’s costliest climate disaster” of 2023. It added that “early estimates” by risk analysts put the upper limit of preliminary costs at USD 18-20 billion.

Joe Biden with Red Cross personnel. Photo courtesy: X/@POTUS

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, one of the Republicans in the race for the 2024 US presidential elections, refused to meet Biden on Saturday. “We don’t have any plans for the governor to meet with the president,” said DeSantis’s spokesperson, Jeremy Redfern, to CNN.

There was online reaction to the governor’s action. One user with the handle @mmpadellan posted on X: “In a show of childish, petulant partisanship, Governor Ron DeSantis refuses to survey the damage from Hurricane Idalia with President Biden. Floridians deserve so much better than DeSantis.” This was followed by a strong word that summarised the X user’s opinion of DeSantis.

The president and the first lady were accompanied by Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in Florida. All of them surveyed the extensive damage from the air.

The US president and the first lady interact with Live Oak Fire Department personnel. Photo courtesy: X/@POTUS

A briefing was held at an elementary school, where the Bidens interacted with federal and state officials, and first responders. The president also gave assurances of all help with rebuilding the affected areas.

Following the visit, he posted on X: “Today, Jill and I spent time with first responders and with families whose lives have been upended by Hurricane Idalia.

“But through it all, we saw neighbors helping neighbors with determination and optimism.

“That’s America.”