President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis visited and encouraged each other after separately touring the devastation along Florida’s southwestern coastline.

A week after Hurricane Ian ruined and closed all businesses in Fort Myers Beach, Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass accompanied Biden on a helicopter tour of the damage. Also on Wednesday from 1pm he flew over Sanibel Island, Captiva Island and Pine Island until 2pm.

They landed and arrived in a convoy at the southern tip of San Carlos Island. Adjacent to Matanzas Pass Bridge, in front of two local businesses, Dixie’s Fish Company and Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Cafe, and adjacent to Dock Ford’s in Fort Myers Beach. restaurant.

They then held court not only against local elected officials, but also against local business owners.

“I heard you were a hugger,” said Fort Myers Beach City Councilman Lexan Hosafros, who lost his home and car in Hurricane Ian.

Biden continued the round as he grinned and hugged her.

Biden also spoke for a few minutes privately with John Dahmerman, owner and co-CEO of TPI Hospitality, which is building the Margaritaville Resort in Fort Myers Beach. Dummerman said there was no serious structural damage to the walls. However, the construction site remains a mess.Fort Myers Beach following Hurricane Ian

After a roughly 15-minute meeting with the remaining Lee County commissioners and a small group of elected officials from Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Springs, Naples, Cape Coral, Fort Myers and DeSantis, Biden followed, each I made a speech in front of parliament. Ruined Bonitaville.

“This was very unique,” ​​said Jim Atterholt, Fort Myers Beach town councilor and small business owner. Atterhold, a Republican, said Biden was impressed with his demeanor and the amount of time he spent on the ground that he did: “This is really special,” he said. I was. “We all thought it would be used as some kind of background. But he took the time to talk to each of us.”

Among them were Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy and Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce Chairman Jackie Rizak. They were supposed to introduce Biden, but DeSantis did instead.

“This is a clear indication that he is here to listen,” Ryszak said of Biden. “Obviously, their resources are deployed.”

At the end of his speech, Biden emphasized the word “unity” several times in the United States, attracting much of the attention of the crowd of about 50 people who had gathered for the visit. , sparred in comments to the media. Nothing of the sort happened during Wednesday’s visit.

“Even long after the cameras are gone, there is my promise—the promise of America—that we will be here for you,” Biden said. That’s it.”

Liszak lost her four-suite hotel and gift shop, Sea Gypsy, to the storm surge of Hurricane Ian at Fort Myers Beach. All that remains is the wooden ramp leading to the front door.

“Now we are America,” said Liszak. “No politics now. They’re talking now and doing what’s right for us.”

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