The White House announced Tuesday afternoon that President Donald Trump will go to Florida on Thursday to see some of the aftermath from Hurricane Irma, as that state continues to clear debris, and figure out exactly how much damage was done in a wide swath from Jacksonville through South Florida and into the Florida Keys.
This would be the second trip in recent weeks to an area hit hard by a tropical system; Mr. Trump made two trips to the Gulf Coast, stopping in Texas and Louisiana, to get a look at damage and recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey.
“The President’s action during these times demonstrate why he is a true leader who can bring the country together and get things done for the American people,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
As to where the President would visit, Sanders told reporters at the daily White House briefing that those specifics weren’t finalized as yet.
“Details are still being finalized, we hope to have some of that ironed out later today,” Sanders said.
The visit comes as lawmakers from Florida have made appeals to their colleagues in Congress to give more disaster relief aid to FEMA, worried that the scope of the damage in Florida will require more resources to be approved in coming weeks.
“We keep getting this question on how much this is going to cost,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), whose district includes the Florida Keys, which suffered major damage in certain areas.
“I can guarantee you this – it’s going to cost billions, upon billions, upon billions of dollars,” Curbelo said Monday.
So far – as with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey – efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are getting good reviews from on the ground in Florida.
“It’s been coordinated, it’s been seamless,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who quickly noted how different it was from the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which struck south of Miami in August of 1992.
“It’s been – no pun intended – a sea change, in a positive way,” Ros-Lehtinen added, praising the work of the Trump Administration.
Congress also continues to act with speed, approving an increase in how much money can be spent to aid Americans who were on Caribbean islands that suffered damage from Irma.
Current federal law caps that aid at $1 million in total (not per person); the House and Senate both approved a plan on Monday that would increase the available amount of money to $25 million. It was signed into law by the President on Tuesday.
“Hurricane season has left countless Americans stranded and in need of medical care or other assistance,” said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), who unveiled the bill on Monday.
The aid program provide temporary assistance to “U.S. Citizens Returned from Foreign Countries” because of damage in the hurricane.