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Vice President Mike Pence took a helicopter from Camp David to Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, as Hurricane Irma made its way along Florida’s east coast.
Flanked by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Pence shook hands with FEMA employees and members of the Coast Guard, and then he listened somberly with arms crossed as they described the current situation.
“It’s important to remember that this is and continues to be a very dangerous storm, and we urge everyone within the sound of our voice to heed the warnings of local officials,” Pence told reporters later.
Pence said that he, Pruitt and Ross had come from Camp David where President Donald Trump is monitoring the storm "24/7."
The White House later added that Trump and Pence were joined by their wives at Camp David as well as members of the cabinet. All present participated in a teleconference with FEMA Administrator William "Brock" Long, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMasters to discuss Hurricane Irma.
According to Pence, the president had two messages for Florida, FEMA and anyone else affected.
“First, we are with you and the prayers of the American people are with the people of Florida,” Pence said.
He added that the president emphasized that the federal government would do whatever it could to be supportive.
“Wherever Hurricane Irma goes, we’ll be there first,” Pence said, reciting the president’s words. “We’ll be there with resources and support, both to save lives and rebuild.”
Despite the bold claim, costs are beginning to run high. FEMA is quickly seeing its $2.14 billion disaster relief fund dwindle, as they rushed to prepare for Hurricane Irma while rebuilding Southeast Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
The House and Senate passed a $7.85-billion aid bill for Harvey victims last week, and the White House requested $6.7 billion in additional funding to address the Harvey disaster. But not one of those billions of dollars will address the extensive damage in Florida.
"Unfortunately, the current disaster relief package Congress is considering for Hurricane Harvey doesn’t account for the additional costs FEMA will likely incur as a result of Hurricane Irma," Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio said in a joint statement.