President Biden addressed Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel, Florida, and the nation on Thursday after receiving a briefing from FEMA officials, as Florida continues to be pummeled by Ian, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm but is anticipated to become a hurricane again.
A solemn president stated at FEMA headquarters, “This could be the deadliest hurricane in the history of Florida.” Early indications indicate what could be a significant number of fatalities, but the exact figures are still unknown. Thursday, Sheriff Carmine Marceno of Lee County, which was severely affected by Hurricane Ian, estimated that the death toll will be “in the hundreds.” Governor Ron DeSantis later clarified that this number was not confirmed.
The president said, “My message to the people of Florida and the nation is that it is in moments like these that America comes together.” “We’re going to pull together as a team, as a nation.”
The president also told reporters he hopes to travel to Florida and Puerto Rico, which has been without electricity since Hurricane Fiona struck earlier this month. He added that he may need to request additional cash from Congress in order to respond to Ian.
The National Hurricane Center reports that Hurricane Ian is causing catastrophic floods in the state’s east-central regions, along with storm surges and wind gusts that will spread throughout the southern states. Ian slammed the western coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, weakening as it moved inland.
Thursday morning, the president approved a disaster declaration for Florida, releasing government aid for the state. The major disaster declaration provides federal funding to Floridians in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties for temporary lodging and house repairs, in addition to low-interest loans for uninsured property loss. The federal government will fund all qualified debris removal and emergency protection measures for the first 100 days.
Mr. Biden met with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a fierce critic of Mr. Biden’s economic, immigration, and COVID-19 policies, on Thursday morning to discuss what the administration is doing to assist Florida in the midst of the storm. In response to a reporter’s question about the nature of their connection, Mr. Biden stated that he has spoken with Mr. DeSantis “four or five times” regarding Hurricane Ian and brushed aside political differences.
Thursday, the president stated, “This issue has nothing to do with our political differences.” This pertains to saving lives, homes, and companies.
This morning, I spoke with Governor Ron DeSantis about the steps we are doing to assist Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
In addition, I’ve instructed FEMA Administrator Criswell to travel to Florida tomorrow to assess the response and determine where extra assistance is required. — President Biden (@POTUS) September 29, 2022
Mr. Biden stated, “I spoke with Governor DeSantis first thing this morning and again pledged the complete federal help.” “This past week, I authorized his request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration to offer direct federal aid to the state for life-saving emergency protective measures, such as search and rescue, shelter, and food. I granted the governor’s most recent request for an expedited major disaster declaration this morning. This means that the federal government will fund 100 percent of the cost to clear debris and any costs incurred by the state to preserve lives.”
President said, “the federal government will also cover the majority of the cost to reconstruct public structures such as schools and fire stations.” “And Floridians with damaged or destroyed homes who lack adequate insurance will receive $37,900 for home repairs and another $37,900 for lost property, including everything from autos to a lost wedding band,” the federal government said.
At the headquarters of FEMA, the president reminded personnel that they are “doing an excellent job” and “reinforcing people’s faith in institutions.”
The president urged Floridians to adhere to local officials’ instructions and remain indoors until the water recedes.
This week, the administrator of FEMA will travel to Florida to inspect response operations and determine whether additional assistance is required.
Search and rescue operations have already begun on land, in the air, and at sea. In addition to Coast Guard rescue efforts, the Pentagon supports search and rescue operations with more than 1,200 vehicles and 25 watercraft. In the Sunshine State, about 200 shelters are open.
Ian has disturbed the normal schedule in Washington, as the House select committee investigating the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 has postponed its Wednesday session.