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Hurricane Ian: Biden warns of ‘substantial loss of life’

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On Thursday, President Joe Biden spoke with the people of Florida after Hurricane Ian flooded communities across the state, drained power, forced people into shelters and raised fears of “substantial loss of life.” Together, they said, “Our whole country is hurting.”

Biden said the storm could be “the worst hurricane in Florida history.”

During a visit to Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters and briefed on the federal response efforts, the president said, “The numbers are still unknown, but there are early indications that a significant number of lives may have been lost. We are listening to reports,” he said.

Biden said he would visit Florida “if conditions allow” to meet with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. The president said he would also visit Puerto Rico, a US territory hit earlier this month by Hurricane Fiona.

“We know many families are suffering,” Biden said, referring to FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center, where teams of experts across the federal government and partner organizations are monitoring the storm and assisting recovery efforts. “Our whole country suffers from them.”

He urged those affected by Ian to stay safe and take seriously warnings from local authorities to stay indoors.

“Don’t go out unless you have to,” Biden said. “Frankly the danger is real. Please follow all warnings and instructions from emergency authorities.”

Biden and DeSantis spoke again before the hurricane hit and Thursday morning when destruction began to become a focus. Storms have flooded homes on Florida’s coast, cut off the only bridges to barrier islands, destroyed historic waterfront piers, and left 2.67 million homes and businesses without power. At least one man was confirmed dead.

Biden declared a major disaster in parts of Florida early Thursday morning at the request of DeSantis, releasing additional federal aid to state and local governments and individuals. More counties are likely to be added to the disaster declaration as assessments are conducted, he said.

Asked by Congress if the Biden administration would need additional funding to deal with the storm, he said: “It could be.”

Biden said DeSantis, with whom he had a political tussle, was “very happy” with the federal response. This is to save lives, homes and businesses.”

Biden also said he spoke with several Florida mayors on Thursday and conveyed the same message he shared with the governor about the federal government’s commitment to help clean up and rebuild. “We are here”.

“We’re going to do everything we can to give them everything they need,” Biden said, adding that Biden’s instructions were to call the White House directly about their needs. “They know how to do it.

Biden also spoke to people in Puerto Rico who are trying to clean up and rebuild after Ian hit Florida on Wednesday after Hurricane Fiona devastated US island territory.

“I am committed to you and the island’s recovery,” he said.

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