Funds are available now to start rebuilding Florida after the direct hit it took from Hurricane Ian, but more money will likely be needed, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said Tuesday on Newsmax.
"We have the funds right now that are needed, but I would be very surprised if we're not going to require one or two supplemental funding bills in the near future," Diaz-Balart, who represents Charlotte County, located just north of Lee County, which suffered the most damages in the storm's landfall, told "National Report."
Diaz-Balart's comments come as President Joe Biden heads to the state Wednesday to tour the damaged areas, and said he is glad the president is visiting his state.
"He's going to be shocked with what he sees," he said. "He's going to be distraught, and I'm absolutely confident we will get strong bipartisan support for whatever funds are necessary."
The congressman called the search-and-rescue efforts after the storm heroic but said the death toll is continuing to climb.
"There are also some bright spots," Diaz-Balart said. "There are 42,000 linemen right now in the area dealing with folks who don't have electricity. They've restored power to more than 1.8 million accounts across the state."
However, there are many places where homes and the whole infrastructure are gone, he said.
"This is going to be a long process because there are parts of the state in southwest Florida, frankly, that are almost absolutely just gone, wiped off the planet," the congressman lamented.
There has been good coordination between the state and federal governments, and that points to the state's preparedness under Gov. Ron DeSantis, said Diaz-Balart, calling the governor's actions "amazing."
"You know, he's so thorough [and] he's laser-focused on dealing with this issue, and because of that, and because Florida has been prepared, you're seeing coordination like I have not seen before in previous storms," he said.
However, the congressman said he is not surprised at the mainstream media's attacks on the governor after the hurricane.
"He's the best governor in the entire country, and he's showing why one more time," Diaz-Balart said. "That is absolutely unfair. He was telling people to please, please take this seriously, to please evacuate, so he's done everything possible. You can't force people to leave their homes. But I will tell you he's doing a tremendous job and in the aftermath."
He also praised the efforts of Florida's members of Congress, and members of the public.
"This kind of disaster brings out the best in people, and we're seeing it everywhere," Diaz-Balart said. "We're seeing volunteers, religious groups. The Israeli general counsel in Miami went out there and brought aid to folks that are struggling."
Several nonprofit agencies are helping bring in supplies, he noted, singling out the Global Empowerment Mission headquarters in his district that has been sending out truckloads of supplies and the city of Hialeah, which has opened every fire station in the community as a place where people can donate supplies.
However, it also brings out the bad in some people, according to Diaz-Balart.
"The governor has been very clear; you try looting in this state, you're going to suffer the consequences in a real way, not a slap on the wrist," he said. "You are going to end up in prison."
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