Hangar Bay 3, Southwest Florida International Airport
Fort Myers, Florida
11:04 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well I just want to thank everybody. I came down to see FEMA, to see the Coast Guard, to see the Army, the Marines, everybody, the Navy. The job that everybody has done is incredible.
And I know you’re also in the process, but to think of the incredible power of that storm. And while people unfortunately passed, it was such a small number that nobody would have — people thought thousands and thousands of people may have their lives ended. And the number is a very small number which is a great tribute to you.
Also with the fact that I know in the case of FEMA and the case of Coast Guard, the job you’ve done in saving people, saving lives. As an example, in Harvey in Texas, we talked — over 16,000 lives. Nobody would even understand that, it’s on you — even imagine — and down here the same thing.
So I want to thank everybody. You guys have been — I don’t want to see you next week in another disaster. (Laughter.) We’ve seen you enough.
But I just want to thank everybody, the first responders, on behalf of myself, our Vice President. Melania really wanted to be with us, she’s really — it has really touched her heart what’s gone on.
And we’ve seen the devastation. We’re going to see some more of it now unfortunately, and I have to say that your Governor — where is our Governor here? Rick Scott. (Applause.) The job he has done is incredible, and I guess I’ve been very lucky because you know you have a great Governor in Texas, you have a great Governor in Florida. The job that Rick has done is being talked about all over.
And to think that — and I must say, Florida Power & Light — where’s Eric? Eric. Where’s Eric? Eric, great job. (Applause.) I will say they’re way ahead of schedule. There are more electrical people in this state, I think, than ever accumulated anywhere in the world is what I read before. It’s from all over the country they came and I’ve never seen — you’ve never seen anything —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, we haven’t.
THE PRESIDENT: Mobilized all over. I see Pam Bondi, who has done such an incredible job stopping certain little problems before they start and actually getting some of the companies to put up a lot of money. So the Attorney General, I want to thank you, Pam. Fantastic job. (Applause.)
Elaine — where’s Elaine Duke? Elaine Duke and — where’s our Brock? Don’t lose him, okay, Elaine. (Laughter.) I have to say that Brock, working with your Governor, working with Pam, working with Elaine, working, by the way, with Marco Rubio, who is around here somewhere. (Applause.)
It’s a team like very few people have seen, and I want to thank everybody. Marco, I want to thank you a lot, you were really helpful. And I just — again I have to say that, what do I know? But I hope this man right here, Rick Scott, runs for the Senate. I don’t know what he’s going to do. (Laughter) But I know that at a certain point it ends for you, and we can’t let it end. So I hope he runs for Senate. (Applause.)
Again, I came down to say hello to you folks and to say hello to you folks. And the First Lady and myself, this is an honor for us to be here. We’re now going to tour some of the areas.
And, as Rick said, we have been very, very fast, and we had to be. We were signing papers as the storm was coming in, and that’s never happened before. But Rick, thank you very much, really great job. And Brock, everybody, thank you very much. You have a great — Rick Perry here. (Applause.)
We have Linda McMahon, we have so many people, so many of the Cabinet members because they’re going to help. I want to thank Mike Pence. In fact, I’d like you to say a few words.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I would be happy to. Thank you, Mr. President, First Lady. It’s an honor to be with you today just to pay a debt of gratitude for the great leadership here at the state and local level.
I know the President directed the full resources of the federal government in support of Florida’s effort to prepare for it, confront, and now recovery and rebuild from Hurricane Irma. The President’s directive over this weekend was very clear: Wherever Hurricane Irma goes, we’re going to be there first.
And thanks to the great leadership of your Governor, and your emergency management team, and all the great first responders on the ground, that’s exactly what Florida did.
And as the President has said, we’re with you today, we’re going to be with you tomorrow, and we’re going to be with you until Florida rebuilds bigger and better than ever before. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: One word on a very important subject, so your power is, I mean literally, Rick, it’s going on as we speak. It’s going way ahead of schedule — weeks ahead of schedule. And most of it, I guess outside of the Keys, where we have a very special problem, but we’re working hard on that. That’s a very, very special problem. That was just dead-center, but we’re working very hard on that. And we have a lot of goods out there, a lot of water, a lot of food, a lot of everything.
But I’d like to ask your Governor to say a few words. Again, he’s been absolutely outstanding. Thank you. Rick.
GOVERNOR SCOTT: Well first off, I want to thank everybody for their prayers. We’ve got prayers all over the world. I want to thank everybody for doing everything they can to get us back.
I want to thank the President and the Vice President. What I can say is, they were always accessible. They made quick decisions. They surrounded themselves with outstanding people. They were constantly calling me to say what resources did we need.
I want to thank basically the entire military. I want to thank the Coast Guard and the Navy. (Applause.)
I want to thank Secretary Duke. I want to thank Administrator Long. They were always calling us saying, what resources can we bring to the table? As you know, our state has been devastated. I’ve been in the Keys. If you go to the Keys, there were nine-foot storm surges, their homes just toppled. We don’t want to lose a life.
Down here in this part of the state we got a lot of flooding, a lot of wind, a lot of rain. We got flooding up in the northeast.
We’re working hard to get our power back on. Our utilities have restored over 4 million homes already. We’re down to about 25 percent of our homes, and every person in our state wants their power back. We all want our power back. But I want to thank them for what they’re doing so far. We have high expectations. We want our power back as fast as possible.
I want to thank the federal government for all of their support. If ports reopen, we get our fuel back in our state. We’re short of fuel. We got lines in our gas stations. We still have lines at our gas stations.
The federal government has been a partner to help us make sure our ports get open so we get the fuel back into the state. We’ve done law enforcement escorts of our tanker trucks to get back to the gas stations and make sure we have fuel.
So everybody has worked hard. I want to thank our National Guard. We’ve called up over 8,000 National Guard members. We’ve got National Guard members from other states down here making sure that shelters were open, people were comfortable. We opened almost 600 shelters in record time, and it wouldn’t have happened but for the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the National Guard, but also the National Guard from other states.
So we have a lot of work to do. We’re not done today. We’re going to work hard. I know the federal government will continue to be a partner, our locals will, our state will. We’re going to make sure — we’re going to continue to be a strong, resilient state.
But as I said, I want to thank from the bottom of my heart, everybody’s prayers to help us get through this. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So we are now going to be making a tour of the areas. We’re going to see some of the folks and make sure they’re happy because we’re trying to keep it as happy as we can under the circumstances. In many cases they lost their homes, and it’s a tough situation. So we’re going to go see a lot of the folks.
And I will tell you again, I want to thank you. I want to thank the military. So thank everybody, and we’ll see you later.
Media, we appreciate you being so understanding. It’s been a very tough period of time even for you folks, and we really do appreciate your understanding. This has been a difficult situation.
As Rick knows, almost all of the roads are now open, and the ports are just about open. What we had to do to get some of those ports open, people wouldn’t even believe that we did it so quickly. So we’re very proud of the job that everybody around here has done.
Thank you all. Thank you very much. We’ll see you later. Thank you. (Applause.)
11:12 A.M. EDT