Vice President Pence to Florida as Hurricane Irma arrives: 'We are with you'

Pence spoke to News 6 Sunday about White House's support

ORLANDO, Fla. – Vice President Mike Pence spoke to News 6 Sunday afternoon about the federal response to Hurricane Irma as it lashed southwest Florida.

Pence, who was speaking from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, commended Gov. Rick Scott and local officials for their response effort thus far and said the White House, as directed by President Donald Trump, has been in constant communication with state and local leaders to offer the state federal assistance.

"We are bringing the full resources of the federal government to bear -- through the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, through FEMA, through Health and Human Services -- to support the efforts of your state government," Pence said.

Pence said he knows Hurricane Irma has a ways to go as it continues trekking up Florida's west coast, but reassured the people of the state that the federal government would be there throughout the duration of the storm and the days of recovery that will follow.

“This hurricane is far from over, but as President Trump directed our entire team over the course of this weekend, our objective is to support Governor Scott and Florida's efforts, and to make sure that wherever Hurricane Irma goes, we’re there first," Pence said.

The vice president said the federal government will offer assistance in the form of rescue and recovery efforts, as well as federal aid, as it stands side-by-side with state and local governments.

After concerns that FEMA's disaster funds could be running low from Hurricane Harvey's response, Pence assured the people of Florida that the state would have the funds it needs to rebuild after Irma. Congress passed a $15 billion bill to support Texas in its recovery after Harvey.

Pence said it was impossible to immediately offer airborne assistance to the state as the storm was still ripping through the Keys, but that federal assistance would be in the air to assist with rescue and recovery efforts as soon as possible.

As the people of Florida are in the midst of the storm, Pence said it was crucial for residents to listen to their local and state officials in order to remain safe.

"The most important message for any of your viewers that have family or friends or neighbors along the west coast, or any of the affected areas, is to listen to local and state officials – whether that be to shelter in place or to stay where you're at, or to elevate, this is a dangerous, life-threatening storm and people need to know that this is the time to listen to our emergency management officials, but know that the very moment that we can provide support for rescue and recovery efforts, we’ll be there alongside the state of Florida to make that happen,” Pence said.

The vice president also had a message for the people of Central Florida as Hurricane Irma neared the area.

"All of Florida will face its impacts and the people in the Orlando viewing area just should know that we are with you," Pence said. "We are with you in our prayers, but at President Trump’s direction, we are taking action to ensure that every measure of support is being brought to bear to save lives and to support the rescue and recovery efforts that will come in the days ahead.”

Pence also said that Trump already expressed a desire over the weekend to make his way to Florida as soon as possible, adding that he believes the President will make every effort to make sure the families and communities of Florida know they’re not alone.

“We are with you today, we will be with you tomorrow and we will be with you every day until Florida rebuilds bigger and better than ever before,” Pence said.

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