Joe Biden Heads to Florida to Meet with Ron DeSantis, Visit Those Affected by Hurricane Ian

Ron DeSantis, President Joe Biden
Ron DeSantis, President Joe Biden

Tristan Wheelock/Bloomberg/Getty Images; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Ron DeSantis, President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are heading to Florida Wednesday, days after the Category 4 Hurricane Ian made landfall and caused catastrophic damage in parts of the state.

According to a pool report, the president and first lady are expected to arrive in Fort Myers around 1 p.m. local time to survey the damage via helicopter, receive a briefing on response and recovery efforts from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials, and meet with those who have been personally affected by the storm.

The president is slated to deliver remarks on his recovery plans following those meetings.

Biden appeared at FEMA headquarters following the storm last week and said Ian "could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history."

"The numbers we have are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life," he said.

"We know many families are hurting," Biden added. "Many, many, are hurting today."

RELATED: Hurricane Ian Rips Roof Off Florida Hospital, Flooding ICU Where Patients Had to Be Moved to Other Floors

While the focus of the trip is on the storm, all eyes will be on Biden as he meets with DeSantis, a Republican widely rumored to be considering a 2024 run for the White House.

DeSantis has called Hurricane Ian a "500-year flooding event," telling reporters during a press conference during the storm: "We've never seen storm surge of this magnitude. The amount of water that's been rising, and will likely continue to rise today even as the storm is passing, is basically a 500-year flooding event."

Mandatory Credit: Photo by CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13429149e) People look on destroyed boats after Hurricane Ian swept through at the Centennial Park in Fort Myers, Florida, USA, 29 September 2022. Category 4 hurrican Ian swept through Florida during the night and now it is downgraded to tropical storm. Ian's sustained winds extended outward up to 415 miles, drenching much of Florida and the southeastern Atlantic coast. US President Joe Biden on 29 September approved Florida disaster declaration. Damage after Hurricane Ian swept through Florida, Fort Myers, USA - 29 Sep 2022
Mandatory Credit: Photo by CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13429149e) People look on destroyed boats after Hurricane Ian swept through at the Centennial Park in Fort Myers, Florida, USA, 29 September 2022. Category 4 hurrican Ian swept through Florida during the night and now it is downgraded to tropical storm. Ian's sustained winds extended outward up to 415 miles, drenching much of Florida and the southeastern Atlantic coast. US President Joe Biden on 29 September approved Florida disaster declaration. Damage after Hurricane Ian swept through Florida, Fort Myers, USA - 29 Sep 2022

CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In recent months, DeSantis has frequently drawn attention to his political differences with Biden, such as in September when he took credit for sending a plane of migrants to Martha's Vineyard in what many described as a political stunt.

"States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as 'sanctuary states' and support for the Biden Administration's open border policies," DeSantis' office told CNN in a statement.

The White House, in response, slammed Republican governors for transporting migrants across state lines as a means of publicizing a political issue.

"It's really just disrespectful to humanity. It is — it doesn't afford them any dignity, what they're doing, when you're abandoning families and children in a place where they were told they were going to get housing, in a place where they were told they were going to get jobs," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in September. "It is just cruel."

RELATED: Joe Biden Visits Puerto Rico in Wake of Hurricane Fiona: 'I Want to See the State of Affairs'

In a briefing held earlier this week, Jean-Pierre continued to criticize the stunt, but said the president and DeSantis would not be focusing on that during Wednesday's meeting.

"Obviously the president laid out his concerns and outrage by the stunt," she told reporters. "There will be plenty of time to discuss differences between the president and the governor but now is not the time."

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The Bidens' trip to Florida comes just days after the president visited Puerto Rico to assess the damage wrought by a different storm — the slow-moving Category 1 hurricane named Fiona — which caused an estimated billions of dollars in damages as it moved over the island last month.