Following Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Fiona’s devastation of Puerto Rico and Florida, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are visiting both the state and U.S. territory to survey the damage.
According to the New York Post, President Biden and the First Lady will be traveling to Puerto Rico on Monday, two weeks after Hurricane Fiona hit the island as a Category 1 storm. They will then travel to Florida on Wednesday one week after Hurricane Ian hit landfall as a Category 4 storm.
The U.S. President further addressed the damages caused by Hurricane Fiona and Ian during the Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner on Saturday (October 1st). “Our hearts are heavy,” he said. “The devastating hurricanes, storms in Puerto Rico, Florida, and South Carolina. We owe Puerto Rico a hell of a lot more than they’ve already gotten.”
Politico further reports that President Biden spoke about the recovery efforts for Hurricane Ian on Friday (September 30th). “It’s not just a crisis for Florida,” he explained. “This is an American crisis. We’re all in this together. I just want the people of Florida to know: We see what you’re going through and we’re with you.”
Officials Reveal That Death Rises to 67 in Florida Following Hurricane Ian
Meanwhile, CNN reports that the death toll in Florida after Hurricane Ian has raised to 67. The storm made landfall on Wednesday on the Gulf Coast. It brought record-high storm surge, damaging winds and excessive flooding throughout the state.
Along with the 67 deaths, PowerOutage reports that nearly 900,000 customers in Florida are still without power as of early Sunday morning. Close to 30,000 customers also have no power in South Carolina after Hurricane Ian made its way to the Palmetto State late last week.
CNN further reports that crews have rescued and evacuated more than 1,070n people from flooded areas in both the southwest and central parts of Florida. They also transported close to 80 people from a flooded elderly care facility. Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson also shared that the U.S. Coast Guard has conducted rescues. “We’re flying and we’re operating in areas that are unrecognizable,” he explained. “There’s no street signs. They don’t look like [what] they used to look. Buildings that were once benchmarks in the community are no longer there.”
It was then revealed that many of the Hurricane Ian-related deaths have been reported in Florida’s Lee County. This includes Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, which saw 35 deaths. Local officials in Lee County are now facing criticism about the mandatory evacuations not being issued sooner. Officials did order evacuations until less than 24 hours before Hurricane Ian made landfall. The countries around it issued orders one day prior.