Rep. Byron Donalds: ‘Now Is Not the Time to Be Talking About Who Gets What Based Upon Where You Started’

Melanie Arter | October 3, 2022 | 10:13am EDT
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Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) (Photo by ROD LAMKEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) (Photo by ROD LAMKEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said Sunday that he “couldn’t disagree more” with Vice President Kamala Harris when she called for giving hurricane aid to communities of color first.

As reported, Vice President Kamala Harris made the controversial comments during a discussion with Priyanka Chopra at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday:

We have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity. Understanding not everyone starts out at the same place, and if we want people to be in an equal place, sometimes we have to take into account those disparities and do that work. 

“I couldn't disagree more with the vice president. Now is not the time to be talking about who gets what based upon where you started. It's about helping people, making sure they get the resources they need to them as quickly as possible, helping them recover as quickly as possible. That's what matters. That other stuff can wait for another day,” Donalds told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”   

“Obviously, we're going to have elections about that stuff in about a month or so, but right now it's about getting aid to people and getting the recovery process started here in southwest Florida. I don't know what she's talking about, frankly, I just shook my head through that entire comment,” he said.

Donalds said it will take two to three years in some areas for recovery and “well over $5 billion.”

We don't have a cost estimate yet, but just my own back of the napkin math, we're going to be well over $5 billion. It's going to be higher than that, but we don't have a cost estimate yet. In terms of resources, I actually do think we have the resources. 

I have to give real credit, full credit to Governor DeSantis, Kevin Guthrie and his team working with FEMA, working with the White House prior to storm touching down to make sure assets were pre-positioned. 

I mean once they kind of got in the mode of being ready, then it was easier to come into the area once the storm passed, but I think it's important for people to understand this storm was not just a wind event.

It brought storm surge anywhere from 4 feet to 16 feet of just storm surge through our area and so structures in south Florida are actually constructed now to deal with heavy winds, but the flooding is one of the things that the flash flooding is the thing that you just really can't wrap your arms around until it happens.

When asked how long it will take to recover from Hurricane Ian, the congressman said, “Well, listen, to be blunt, I think in some areas it's going to be two years of recovery - two years, three years. I mean, we have a lot of legacy buildings that have been here for quite some time, you know? They've really become, you know, points of interest for people to travel to. 

“All of that needs to be rebuilt. We have new structures that were in the process of being rebuilt. That's been wiped out, and we have some serious infrastructure issues that are going to have to be rebuilt as well. So I think to restore southwest Florida we're going to move as quickly as we can, but in some parts it's going to be a couple of years before it's fully rebuilt,” he said.

Donalds said his region has been “devastated.”

Fort Myers beaches, which is one of the large tourist destinations in the country, has just been obliterated. It looks like they fought a war on Fort Myers beach. That's what the storm did to that area. Many structures have been completely blown out, washed out. There’s debris everywhere. Sanibel Island has been completely destroyed. 

Some of the structures are still standing, but the water damage, the storm surge has brown out first floor and even second floors of so many areas of the island. Pine Island, home to 20,000 people during season here, there's still about 2-4,000 people on Pine Island right now. We're trying to get them resources immediately from FEMA so that they can at least survive the next couple of days. 

Their bridge is completely washed out, and then Cape Coral is just completely out of power. Their telephone poles have just been snapped all over the island. We were able to restore emergency power to the hospital yesterday with the hard work of LCEC and our local government there. 

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