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Biden arrives in California for storm damage survey

On Thursday, President Biden arrived in California and joined Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla took a helicopter tour of the Central Coast, which was ravaged by winter storms that caused severe flooding and landslides.

After issuing an emergency declaration for California, the president visited the state. It authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief and offers federal aid for recovery efforts through a separate major catastrophe declaration in the six counties San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

Governor Biden has praised the Biden government for its support of California. California was hit with $1 billion in “extensive damage” by a series of storms that began Dec. 26. In San Francisco, the rains dropped more than 17 inches and in Santa Cruz Mountains, 20 inches.

It was San Francisco’s second-wettest three week period since the Great Flood of 1862.

Anthony York, a spokesperson for Newsom, stated that they could not have asked for more from the president and his entire administration. “The president called the governor from Mexico several times to check on the storms.”

Biden’s visit to California marks a break in the political tension between the rising California governor and the president who has yet publicly announced his plans to run in 2024.

Newsom made headlines over the summer by criticizing Republican governors’ use of immigrants as political pawns, criminalizing abortion and restricting voting rights. He also needled Democratic leaders for failing to launch a stronger response.

Although he later clarified that his comments were not directed towards Biden, he continued his campaign for more aggressive political action and took swings at Florida Governor. Ron DeSantis is a potential GOP presidential candidate. He was also, in a lesser degree, Governor. Greg Abbott of Texas.

Mike Madrid, a Republican political strategist, described Newsom’s actions as “natural joskeying” and “legitimate to a new generation to not only poke at whether or not Biden is going to run, but also to really position if he weren’t.” Although Biden has not made any formal announcements, it is expected that he will run again. Newsom repeatedly denied any interest in running in the 2024 presidential election.

Newsom’s frustration with his party resonated with rank and file Democrats. Many were upset by the Supreme Court decision to overturn legal right to abortion, and tired of the GOP’s inept response.

Madrid stated that he will be the tip of his spear if he puts himself in a position to help him as an heir apparent or someone who’s going to be viable nationally. “I believe what he’s doing tactically, and it helps Biden because it sets a contrast with the extreme elements in the Republican Party.

Biden has increased his warnings to the nation about the dangers of American democracy, naming former President Trump and his supporters.

In September, the president put Newsom in a difficult situation when he offered a surprising support for a bill that was approved by California’s Legislature to make it easier to organize farmworkers. The California Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act was on Newsom’s desk. Newsom had been pondering whether to sign it or not. His office previously stated that he did not support the bill language as it passed through the Legislature.

Newsom signed the bill into law. Madrid called the president’s support for the farmworker bill a “pop in the snout from Biden.”

Months later, Newsom travelled to the Mexican border days following criticism from the GOP about Biden’s visit to Arizona and his decision not to stop at the border.

Newsom has never been afraid to push his party where he believes it should go. Madrid cited Newsom’s 2004 support for gay marriage and the subsequent blame he received from John Kerry for his loss as an example.

Biden arrived in Mountain View at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View around mid-day. Newsom, Padilla, and U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, (D-Menlo Park), greeted him.

Shortly after noon, the president’s helicopter and four others flew over the airfield, turning southwest towards the coast and mountains to assess the damage.

The president plans to meet with local business owners and residents affected by the flooding in Capitola, and talk with first responders as well as state and local officials about the recovery efforts in Aptos. Biden will make remarks before returning to the East Coast Thursday evening.

James Gallagher, Yuba City Assembly Republican Leader, encouraged the president to prioritize infrastructure projects despite environmental concerns.

“Newsom’s and Biden’s allies on Biden’s far left continue to throw up obstacles to improving critical infrastructure,” he stated in a statement. “Everything, from fuels reduction projects to protect communities from wildfire to water storage, gets bogged down by red tape.

“This is a matter safety.”

Santa Cruz, Capitola, and Fort Bragg were among the California coast cities that were ravaged by wind, rain, and storm surge. Streets, parks, homes, and shops were submerged by the powerful waves, causing spectacular destruction to iconic wharfs, restaurants and sidewalks.

During this time, rivers in Merced, Salinas and Sacramento counties swelled to overflow their banks, turning farms, whole cities blocks, and neighborhoods into lakes. First responders needed jet skis, boats and kayaks to evacuate stranded Californians.

In the coast mountains, from the Bay Area to Ventura, drought-stressed tree fell across roads and houses, isolating entire communities. Meanwhile, debris flows, mudslides, and sinkholes blocked traffic, prompting dozens of evacuations. In the last few weeks, California saw more than 500 landslides.

Kamala Harris, Vice President, announced that she will follow Biden’s visit by making her own trip to Southern California to “focus on building resilience against floods and droughts” on Friday.

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