A week after Hurricane Ian swamped chunks of the Florida coast, President Joe Biden came to the state to promise that everything will be rebuilt.
“Today we have one job and only one job, and that’s to make sure the people in Florida get everything they need to fully, thoroughly recover,” Biden said.
“It’s going to take a hell of a long time, hopefully without any snags in the way,” Biden added. “Later, after the television cameras have moved on, we’re still going to be here with you.”
Biden and first lady Jill Biden toured the hardest hit areas alongside Fla Gov. Ron DeSantis. The two men could face off against each other in the 2024 presidential race. But throughout Hurricane Ian, the two have been on the same page in a bipartisan effort to get the state back on its feet.
“We are cutting through the red tape and that’s from local government, state government, all the way up to the president,” DeSantis said. “We appreciate the team effort.”
Hurricane Ian Thrashed Florida with 150 MPH Winds
Biden stressed that it may take months, even years, to repair all the damage that the category 4 hurricane caused with its 150-mile-per-hour winds and seven-foot storm surge. It could be one of the most expensive storms ever to hit the United States and possibly the costliest for Florida.
Hurricane Ian developed far out in the Atlantic late last month. It first slammed into Cuba, then strengthened as it churned towards Florida. The eye made landfall near Fort Myers on the southwest Gulf coast of Florida. The storm headed north and east over the peninsula, eventually popping back into the Atlantic. From there, Ian regenerated, with the upper atmosphere steering currents guiding it towards South Carolina, where it made another landfall with 85 mph winds.
According to DeSantis, rescue workers have searched more than 100,000 homes to check on folks who might not have evacuated. The Weather Channel has documented 105 confirmed deaths. More than half came in Lee County, where Hurricane Ian made landfall. The Washington Post reported that most of the dead drowned from the storm surge. But that’s not unusual. The National Hurricane Center said that typically, 90 percent of the deaths are caused by flooding, whether it’s from the storm surge or heavy rainfall. More than 3,800 people were rescued from flooded homes. Workers have used helicopters and boats to rescue stranded people. Meanwhile, more than 200,000 families registered for assistance through FEMA.
Workers also have cleared 5,000 miles of roadway in the state. And a week after the storm hit, power has been restored to about 97 percent of the state’s utility customers. According to PowerOutage.us, there still are 270,000 outages in the state as of Wednesday night.