President Joe Biden has extended the major disaster declaration for Florida to 60 days, allowing the federal government to fully cover the cost of temporary shelter and debris removal following the devastation created by Hurricane Ian.
While visiting Fort Myers on Wednesday, President Biden pledged to put the full weight of the federal government to help Florida with rebuilding and recovery efforts. President Biden said, “I want the people of Florida to know you have my commitment and America’s commitment that we’re not going to leave; we’re going to see you through this entire process..And it’s going to take a hell of a long time – hopefully without any snags in the way. Later after the television cameras have moved on, we’re still going to be here with you. We’re still going to be moving. We’re still going to be doing everything we can to try to put your lives back together again.”
The president was joined by Governor Ron Desantis, who praised the cooperation from the federal government saying, “We are cutting through the red tape – and that’s from local government, state government all the way up to the president – so we appreciate the team effort.”
The president’s visit comes as the death toll from Hurricane Ian has passed 100 people. The majority of those deaths have occurred in Lee County, which still has search-and-rescue teams operating in the county. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell told reporters, “We have 17 search-and-rescue teams still in Lee County that are going door by door to make sure that we have accounted for everybody. Yesterday alone, they were able to assess 24,000 structures. They’re going to continue to be in the county until every structure has been looked at and cleared to make sure nobody still needs rescue.”