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DeSantis expects White House announcement on storm aid

(Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After a meeting with President Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday said he expects a White House announcement this week about Hurricane Michael recovery.

DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott met Tuesday afternoon with Trump for a discussion primarily focused on the Maduro regime in Venezuela. But DeSantis said Wednesday during an appearance in Miami that he also talked about Florida transportation issues and storm-relief efforts in the eastern Panhandle.

“You guys in Miami, I think the closest analog would be Hurricane Andrew, in terms of destruction,” DeSantis said. “Since Hurricane Andrew, and I grew up in Florida, nothing compared to what I’ve seen in Michael,” DeSantis continued. “I think we’re going to have a pretty big announcement tomorrow (Thursday) about the president helping out there, which is going to be phenomenal. So, stay tuned.”

Last week, DeSantis -- following a closed-door meeting in Panama City with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long and local officials -- said that he would push the White House to increase federal reimbursements for debris cleanup.

DeSantis also announced during the Jan. 16 tour of the storm damage that the state Division of Emergency Management would speed money to Panhandle communities that are being swamped financially by “massive” amounts of debris.

State officials have estimated the Oct. 10 hurricane created about 20 million cubic tons of debris, as the Category 4 storm barreled a path from Mexico Beach into Georgia.

By comparison, Hurricane Irma, which in September 2017 cut a path from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville, resulted in about 2 million cubic tons of debris.

Local governments expect to eventually receive 75 percent reimbursement from the federal government for debris removal.

DeSantis said his request is to bump that figure to 90 percent on the federal side.