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Congressman Mike Waltz: Florida “Dodged A Bullet” With Dorian, Assistance Coming For Storm-Ravaged Bahamian Islands

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Representative Mike Waltz visits a special needs shlelter in Port Orange ahead of Dorian's approach. Photo: Congressman Mike Waltz / Twitter

Some lawmakers are calling on the U.S. to provide aid to the Bahamian islands that were ravaged by Hurricane Dorian.

St. Augustine Republican Congressman Mike Waltz tells 90.7’s Brendan Byrne that Floridians were lucky to avoid a direct hit from Dorian.

Representative Mike Waltz: I have to tell you, I had a round table of farmers and an agribusiness interest in Lake [County]. They were incredibly concerned. A lot of the fruits were just on the verge of being picked, they hadn’t fully recovered from Irma, the water was already at correct level and the lakes and rivers. If you think about what we were just a few days ago, where the forecast had the hurricane sitting on Florida as a Cat 1 for at least 24 hours after making landfall, I think we really dodged a bullet. And I’m so thankful

Brendan Byrne: Assessments from emergency managers is that for this storm, they were allowed more freedom to plan for their community’s needs more so than under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott — less of a top down approach, so to speak, and more of a bottom up. How would you grade Governor DeSantis’ handling of this storm?

Waltz: I think that I think Governor DeSantis really showed great leadership and I’ve said that repeatedly on an on number of media outlets. Part of it is really just being present getting on the ground. He’s a Navy, former Navy officer, I’m an army man. We learned in the military, you get out on the ground, you talk to the troops. You touch, feel, see and hear firsthand what’s going on. That’s that’s just a basic aspect of leadership, I thought he did a great job. And I thought he did a great job of really threading the needle between keeping people prepared and engaged, yet not panicking people as the forecast for this monster storm were all over the map — literally all over the map.

Byrne: Now another one of your Republican colleagues, Senator Marco Rubio, said he’s asking the Trump administration to waive U.S. visa requirements for Bahamian seeking refuge in the aftermath of the storm. Are you joining him in that call?

Waltz: Yeah, we haven’t looked at that yet. That’s actually the first time hearing of it. But I was on the phone with the Coast Guard this morning with the Vice Admiral. In short, the Atlantic region, he put has pushed a number of aviation assets over to the Bahamas. We were also on a call where we were looking at how we could dedicate South Florida county asset and and helping USA ideas already engaged and since search and rescue teams. So I think first things first is really just focused on the immediate recovery and saving lives. But I supported Venezuelans being able to come here that are under duress, it will take a look at the details of what the center’s proposing. But I could certainly see myself supporting that.

Byrne: What are some other things the federal government can do to assist in these immediate recovery efforts? Could you see some federal aid money going to the Bahamas?

Waltz: I could see on the resiliency piece. I see federal aid going in both on the front end and on the back end. In fact, the last Congress — an all Republican Congress, I would add — passed a number of rules changes in the FEMA authorization bill that allows for resiliency because that’s critical to our economy. It’s critical to our way of life. And every dollar we spend on the front end, I think saves a lot of dollars on the back end on the Bahamas. Yes, USAID is already spending money on the ground and sending teams on the ground. My understanding is that it has already contributed day one several hundred thousand dollars to the Red Cross to help them get in place. The Bahamas are so close and a neighbor next door. They are a separate country, so we work through our foreign aid apparatus and our embassy there to help the Bahamians.

Waltz represents Florida’s 6th district which stretches from Jacksonville to New Smyrna Beach.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »