Posted: 5:25 pm Wednesday, September 6th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
Even as they voted to approve federal disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday, lawmakers in Congress from Florida were already planning to head back home to deal with the serious threat from Hurricane Irma, worried about safeguarding their own homes and families.
“I want to be home with my community and my family,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who was flying back late today, as the Miami Republican said she was pleased to see so many of her constituents getting ready for Irma, just in case.
“From what I saw and experienced in these past few days back home, we are prepared,” Ros-Lehtinen added, as state lawmakers said the recent devastation from Harvey has clearly grabbed the attention of Floridians.
“People are taking this a little more seriously than maybe they would have a month ago,” said Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who has a coastal district that stretches from north of Cape Canaveral to south of Vero Beach.
“I think everybody in Florida should be worried,” Posey added, saying he would fly home on Thursday, “to make sure I can help however I can down there.”
At the White House, President Trump was keeping his eye on Irma as well.
“It looks like it could be something that is not good; believe me, not good,” the President told reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with Congressional leaders of both parties.
President Trump says Hurricane Irma “seems to be record-breaking” https://t.co/rvmnxXkVm9
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 6, 2017
“If it does hit us, it will be absolutely devastating,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), whose district includes the Keys and the most southern chunk of the state.
After a meeting of House Republicans on disaster aid for storm victims in Texas and Louisiana, Curbelo told reporters that he would fly back either today or Thursday.
“I have a wife and two girls back home,” Curbelo said, as he urged Floridians to prepare.
“I’m worried about Irma,” said Tampa-area Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), who said he was undecided on whether he would stay on Capitol Hill or go back home.
“I was home yesterday, and all the stores – the water is off the shelves,” Bilirakis said.
— Craig (@WCraigFugate) September 6, 2017
Some of those who were leaving Florida to avoid the storm were getting help from lawmakers in other states.
“My wife is from Miami, so we have friends who are coming up to stay with us,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA).
“I think people are smart to get out of the way of that storm,” Scott added.
“I got a house in the Keys,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) said. “I just hope we’re spared, or it fizzles out.”