Ron DeSantis not meeting Joe Biden during visit to hurricane-hit Florida

Governor’s move widely seen as snub as state grapples with widespread devastation following Hurricane Idalia

US president Joe Biden has completed an aerial tour of Live Oak, Florida, as he surveyed damage left behind by Hurricane Idalia.

The president’s visit to Florida came as the state grappled with widespread devastation following the storm, which struck Florida’s Gulf coast on Wednesday.

In what is widely seen as a snub, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is not meeting Mr Biden on Saturday as his spokesperson said Mr Biden’s visit might hinder recovery efforts across the state.

“We don’t have any plans for the governor to meet with the president,” DeSantis’s spokesperson, Jeremy Redfern, told CNN. In response to a question from reporters on Saturday on what had happened to the meeting, Mr Biden said, “I don’t know. He’s not going to be there,” Reuters reported.


On Thursday, the White House said Mr Biden had informed Mr DeSantis he would be visiting Florida and that the governor’s office did not raise any security concerns at the time.

Accompanying Mr Biden on his visit is his wife Jill. “Their visit to Florida has been planned in close co-ordination with [Federal Emergency Management Agency – Fema] as well as state and local leaders to ensure there is no impact on response operations,” White House spokesperson Emilie Simons said.

Fema administrator Deanne Criswell joined the president and first lady on the aerial tour.

Mr Biden was set to receive a briefing on response and recovery efforts from federal personnel, local officials and first responders at Suwanee Pineview elementary school. He was then expected to tour a community affected by Hurricane Idalia and to deliver remarks.

According to analysts, Hurricane Idalia, which also swept through Georgia and the Carolinas, could become the US’s costliest climate disaster of this year. Early estimates by risk analysts have put preliminary costs at between $8.36 billion and $20 billion (€7.76 billion-€18.56 billion).

Last week, Mr Biden visited Hawaii following the devastating aftermath of the Lahaina wildfires in Maui that have left at least 99 people dead and thousands of buildings destroyed.

“I don’t think anybody can deny the impact of a climate crisis any more. Just look around. Historic floods. I mean, historic floods. More intense droughts, extreme heat, significant wildfires have caused significant damage,” Mr Biden said earlier this week following this year’s slew of extreme weather events and climate disasters that have occurred across the country. – Guardian service