SAN JOSE, Calif. - President Joe Biden arrived at Santa Clara County's Moffett Airfield Thursday morning to begin his tour of the storm-ravaged Central Coast.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Sen. Alex Padilla, and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo were on hand to greet the president before they hopped on Marine One for an aerial tour of Santa Cruz County, one of the areas hardest hit by a series of storms.
Biden was heading to survey the storm-damaged Capitola Pier in Santa Cruz County, where he met with business owners and affected residents.
The president also met with first responders and delivered remarks on supporting the state’s recovery at nearby Seacliff State Park, where he wrapped up his damage assessment.
"…powerful winds, floods, landslides But you don't feel until you walk the streets or what you're able to walk," Biden said during his speech.
After meeting with first responders Biden met with local business owners whose businesses were deeply impacted by the recent devastating weather.
"We know some of the destruction is going to take years to fully recover and rebuild. But we gotta, not just rebuild, gotta rebuild better…extraordinary work," the president said.
Newsom shared some words with the first responders about the state's next steps.
"Ninety-three agencies, local, state, regional, federal agencies coming together doing heroic work," Newsom said.
California has seen weeks of wild weather that flooded roadways, collapsed hillsides and toppled countless trees. At least 20 people were killed during the deluges, and destruction spread across 41 of the state's 58 counties.
Eshoo also requested Biden to extend the disaster declaration to individuals who live in her district, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Biden has already approved a major disaster declaration for parts of the state, freeing up additional federal resources for recovery efforts. Hours before the visit, he raised the level of federal assistance available even higher. FEMA Administrator Deanne Chris who also attended the tour told KTVU reporters the initial damage estimates are in hundreds of millions and the number is expected to rise.
"The people in California, I say it again. The country is here for you. And with you. We are not leaving till things are built back and built back better than they were before," Biden said.