President Biden says the federal government is sparing no expense or effort in saving lives after Hurricane Ian swept through Florida in what he called one of the worst natural disasters to hit the U.S.
Ian devastated southwestern Florida at midweek before marching across the state and strengthening ahead of another landfall in South Carolina.
“We’re just beginning to see the scale of that destruction,” Mr. Biden said Friday at the White House, saying the storm will likely rank “among the worst in the nation’s history.”
At least 21 people are dead, and more than 2 million Floridians do not have power.
Parts of Fort Myers, Florida, practically vanished due to high winds and storm surges, and a segment of the Sanibel Island causeway will need to be rebuilt so islanders can reach the mainland.
Mr. Biden spoke to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, on Friday as the two men maintained a friendly tone and remain in contact despite being political foes.
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“I’ve directed that every possible action be taken to save lives and get help to survivors,” Mr. Biden said. “This is an American crisis, we’re all in this together.”
Mr. Biden heralded those who are conducting search and rescue missions, including a crew who hoisted a 94-year-old woman into a helicopter with the wind swirling around them. He said a similar mission saved a 1-month-old baby.
Rescued Floridians are getting medical aid in shelters, and crews are working around the clock to restore power, he said.
The president also spoke to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster to say the federal government would provide any assistance it can and that the Republican governor should “stay in touch.”
Mr. Biden approved a disaster declaration to speed federal aid to the Palmetto State and urged South Carolinians not to underestimate the storm and listen to local officials.
“Follow their instructions,” he said.