FLORIDA KEYS (CBSMiami) – As the massive effort to rebuild the Florida Keys continues, House Speaker Paul Ryan took an aerial tour of the devastation as he vows federal response will be there for those affected.
“What is needed is more aid and more support and more help and the extent of this damage which hit pretty the entire state of Florida,” said Ryan.
A bipartisan delegation joined Ryan on the tour. The delegation was made up of nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives along with Sen. Marco Rubio.
U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose district includes Monroe County, says it’s important for Congress to pass robust FEMA funding with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria impacting millions of Americans.
“It’s an agency that shouldn’t be funded month to month. We should provide them funding for three, four, six months a year so they can plan accordingly,” said Curbelo.
FEMA is funded at least through the end of the month. Then they will get another $7 billion that should take them through mid to late October, so Congress needs to act before that date to make sure the agency can continue responding.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson were also in the Keys on a ground tour.
The governor, who toured a shelter, says he’s worried about service industry employees, wondering where they’re going to live.
“My big concern right now is housing. We got to get our economy going again, a lot of people get paid by the hour, get paid by tips so we got to get the economy going again,” said Gov. Scott.
Samari Aragon works in a restaurant in Key West, but lives in Big Pine. Her place was flooded so she was sleeping in a tent on her roof. She knows firsthand if her co-workers don’t have a home, the economy will suffer.
“I think if we have something temporary, like FEMA trailers or even just tents or a little community that could set us up I think it would really be a nice push forward for the community,” said Aragon.
As residents struggle with housing in Big Pine, for many getting food means going to a disaster relief site. There’s one set up by a non-profit group that moved in to help.
“It was totally amazing, the ice, the water, the food. What else do you need?” said Big Pine resident Judy Rothdeutsch