President Biden is slated to deliver remarks on Hurricane Ian and the ongoing Federal response efforts for the state of Florida.
Though downgraded from a hurricane, Tropical Storm Ian remained a threat Thursday to Central Florida and Northeast Florida, state officials said, after the massive storm brought destruction to the southwestern part of the state.
“The impacts of this storm are historic,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Thursday morning press briefing. “The damage that was done has been historic, and this is just (based) off initial assessments. There’s going to be a lot more assessing that goes on in the days ahead.”
President Joe Biden early Thursday issued a major-disaster declaration, making federal assistance available to people in parts of Florida and providing help to the state and local governments with costs of debris removal and emergency-protective measures.
DeSantis said Ian caused unprecedented storm surge and flooding. The storm came ashore Wednesday in Lee and Charlotte counties as a Category 4 storm, and efforts were underway Thursday to identify and rescue people who remained in danger.
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The governor said a death toll from the hurricane had not been determined. In a video clip that went viral Thursday morning, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said fatalities were “in the hundreds,” with the sheriff also saying that he “cannot give a true assessment” until authorities get on scene.
DeSantis said “none of that is confirmed” when asked about Marceno’s comment.
“That estimate that was put out by Lee (County’s sheriff) is basically an estimate of, hey, these people were calling, the water was rising on their home, they may not have ended up getting through. So we’re obviously hoping that they can be rescued at this point,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said there had been two “unconfirmed fatalities” suspected to have been caused by the hurricane.
As of Thursday morning, the state had about 2.02 million reported power outages, with officials saying people in Central Florida and Northeast Florida should expect additional outages.