It’s curious when President Joe Biden’s administration decides that a state doesn’t meet the criteria for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds after a natural disaster — at least when the state is Florida.
Now, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is hitting back at Biden, saying “White House politics” is responsible for the decision.
If so, it wouldn’t be the first time the Biden administration had tried to hit Florida, including on COVID policy. The trend has only intensified as DeSantis has emerged as a prime contender for the presidency. We’ve been keeping the receipts here at The Western Journal — and we’ll continue to document the administration’s war on the Sunshine State. You can help us bring America the truth by subscribing.
According to Just the News, FEMA denied relief for seniors who were affected by tornadoes that hit southwest Florida in January.
CNN reported at the time that the tornadoes destroyed 28 homes in Lee County and rendered at least 62 more “unlivable,” according to Cecil Pendergrass, co-chairman of the county board of commissioners.
As Just the News noted, a final total 158 homes were either destroyed or took major damage in Charlotte and Lee counties.
A mobile home park in Charlotte County saw extensive damage after Sunday’s storms and tornadoes. The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down in Placida along Gasparilla road.@winknews pic.twitter.com/xibnMMJWed
— Michelle Alvarez WINK News (@malvareztv) January 17, 2022
The tornadoes also knocked out power for thousands of residents. Most of those in destroyed or damaged homes were seniors, with 84 percent dependent on Social Security money to survive.
Video from Iona — where one of the tornadoes touched down — showed how powerful the storms were.
More unbelievable video from Sunday’s EF2 tornado in Iona, Florida!
This was taken in the Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club. You can hear the sound of a freight train as the #tornado just missed the building.
— Nash Rhodes (@NashWX) January 18, 2022
More destruction today from the Tropicana community in the Iona section of Fort Myers.
— Pat Cavlin (@pcavlin) January 16, 2022
“The Florida Department of Emergency Management deployed disaster recovery teams to help residents and assess the damage. They worked with county and federal agencies, including FEMA agents who came to survey the damage in person,” Just the News reported.
“DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for both counties and requested a major disaster declaration from the Biden administration. Florida offered aid through its Individual Assistance program and requested assistance from FEMA.”
That aid wasn’t going to be in the cards.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told DeSantis in a letter that “the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”
“Accordingly, we have determined that supplemental federal assistance is not necessary,” Criswell said.
In a news conference on Friday, DeSantis publicly called on FEMA to reverse the decision after he met with survivors at a mobile home retirement community in Lee County.
“These things should be above politics when people have needs like this,” the Republican governor said. “If you look at, since Biden’s become president, whatever they can do to thumb their nose at Florida, they try to do it.”
DISASTER RELIEF: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) slams President Biden for denying Florida’s request for individual assistance pertaining to tornado relief. pic.twitter.com/5xNe3Abndl
— Forbes (@Forbes) February 18, 2022
He echoed that point in a statement Monday on the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s website.
“Floridians shouldn’t be punished for a disaster that was outside their control because of White House politics,” DeSantis said.
“The scope of devastation in these communities makes it clear that survivors need additional assistance and I’m urging the Biden administration to reconsider its decision. The state of Florida stands with the residents of Charlotte and Lee counties and will work hard to secure all forms of disaster assistance.”
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno also blamed the Biden administration for its failure to support residents.
“In seconds and minutes, their lives were turned upside down. To say it was devastating is an understatement,” he said in a statement.
“Talk about the Biden administration and their continuous failures. We have seen them fail on the international level, the national level and now the state and unfortunately the local level. The governor said it right, it’s about being a human being and doing what is right and thank God for our great governor that stands for just that.”
Tornado victims were also unhappy with the decision.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was frightening, the most frightening thing to ever happen to me,” said Ed Murray, a tornado survivor from Iona, according to the FDEM news release.
“And then to have some government agency say that this is not a tragedy, 22 years of memories, your children and pets all in danger. This has got to be wrong.”
“We were devastated when this happened, we just couldn’t believe it,” said tornado survivor Ellie Costalas, also of Iona.
“You don’t know if the insurance company is going to come through or if you can get a contractor you trust. We thank the governor for supporting us so much.”
Not the president, however.
Perhaps this was a dispassionate decision. That said, it’s not as if the Biden administration doesn’t have a history when it comes to Florida and federal aid — one that’s not going to help him win over voters in the state either this November or in 2024.
After all, if the president and those around him think residents are going to blame DeSantis for this, they’re dead wrong.
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