Hurricane Ian: DeSantis says ‘we’ve never seen a flood like this’ as Biden declares disaster

In America


Biden declares official disaster in Florida

Chris Michael

Chris Michael

Joe Biden has approved a Florida disaster declaration.

The move by the president sends federal money to help state, tribal and local recovery efforts, including debris removal, emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation.

Crucially, it also makes federal funds available to individuals in specific counties, many in central Florida – Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota – which would allow them to “apply for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster”.

The help comes on top of already-extensive assistance from the Biden administration for Florida:

The Administration has:
– Pre-staged 110,000 gallons of fuel and 18,000 pounds of propane
– Moved in a variety of generators
– 3.7 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water ready
– 300 ambulances working side by side with local officials

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/1575153367520878599″,”id”:”1575153367520878599″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”4472036f-ce71-4359-9ae9-cb666b562d4a”}}”>

The Administration has:
– Pre-staged 110,000 gallons of fuel and 18,000 pounds of propane
– Moved in a variety of generators
– 3.7 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water ready
– 300 ambulances working side by side with local officials

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2022

Joe Biden has approved a Florida disaster declaration.

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The move by the president sends federal money to help state, tribal and local recovery efforts, including debris removal, emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation.

“,”elementId”:”57a1ec70-b4ff-49cb-83d0-882d2e057461″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Crucially, it also makes federal funds available to individuals in specific counties, many in central Florida – Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota – which would allow them to “apply for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster”.

“,”elementId”:”da80ad70-4c5c-43e9-8469-537822bf6f92″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

The help comes on top of already-extensive assistance from the Biden administration for Florida:

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Key events

President Joe Biden will be sending his Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator to Florida tomorrow to assess response efforts, the White House said.

A White House statement released on Thursday morning said:

“The President spoke this morning with Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida to discuss the steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to support Florida in response to Hurricane Ian, including the issuance of a Disaster Declaration this morning.”

“The President told the Governor he is sending his FEMA Administrator to Florida tomorrow to check in on response efforts and see where additional support is needed. The President and Governor committed to continued close coordination,” it added.

There will be more clarity on the number of fatalities across the state later today, the governor said.

“My sense is is that you know, that water was very, very high,” DeSantis said, adding, “Hopefully we’ll be able to see a lot of those people brought to safety.”

Florida has received over 15,000 inputs to their shelter in place system, Florida Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie said at the press conference.

He went on to call for those who did not evacuate “to provide critical information to first responders.”

The number of fatalities across the state has not been confirmed, said DeSantis.

What has been confirmed are the numerous 911 calls from residents who have been trapped in their homes by flood waters. “Those folks are going to be checked on” in the coming days, the governor said.

Nevertheless, he said that “we have had two unconfirmed fatalities” that may be linked to the storm.

“We’ve never seen a flood event like this. We’ve never seen storm surge of this magnitude,” the governor said.

With numerous interruptions in communication across the state, DeSantis announced that 100 portable cell towers are being deployed to southwest Florida.

“As soon as the storm passed, in the very wee hours of the morning first responders from the local, state and federal level, descended on Southwest Florida,” DeSantis said.

The governor went on to describe the storm event and the damage it has done as “historic.”

26 states have provided support to Florida amid the damages that Hurricane Ian has left across the state.

“It’s going to be put to use,” DeSantis said on Thursday morning.

“We have been granted 100% federal assistance … for 30 days. Fema [Federal Emergency Management Agency] has activated individual assistance for those who may need and qualify for help,” the governor said.

He added that he spoke with president Joe Biden about the damages earlier this morning and thanked him for federal assistance.

There are 2.02 million power outages as of 6am this morning in southwest Florida, Florida governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference this morning.

The counties that have been hardest hit by the power outages are Lee and Charlotte counties.

“Lee and Charlotte are basically off the grid at this point,” he said, adding, “It’s going to be more than just connecting a power line to a pole” to restore the power.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis will be holding a press conference shortly on the latest developments regarding Hurricane Ian.

DeSantis will address the state from the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

More details to come…

Hi everyone, this is Maya Yang and I will be bringing you the latest updates on the storm. Stay tuned.

Chris Michael

Chris Michael

How the hurricane looked this morning between 4am-10am ET as the sun rose over a badly damaged Florida:

An approximation from the NOAA of how the hurricane looks with the naked eye from space, as derived from the VIIRS Day Night Band developed at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) and the STAR Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB).
Credit: CIRA/NOAA

And some photographs from across America’s third-most populous state, where rescue workers and residents began the search for missing people and the slow process of salvaging wrecked homes:

Biden declares official disaster in Florida

Chris Michael

Chris Michael

Joe Biden has approved a Florida disaster declaration.

The move by the president sends federal money to help state, tribal and local recovery efforts, including debris removal, emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation.

Crucially, it also makes federal funds available to individuals in specific counties, many in central Florida – Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota – which would allow them to “apply for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster”.

The help comes on top of already-extensive assistance from the Biden administration for Florida:

The Administration has:
– Pre-staged 110,000 gallons of fuel and 18,000 pounds of propane
– Moved in a variety of generators
– 3.7 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water ready
– 300 ambulances working side by side with local officials

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/1575153367520878599″,”id”:”1575153367520878599″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”af735823-fdef-42c6-af20-6c9fdd6c0fde”}}”>

The Administration has:
– Pre-staged 110,000 gallons of fuel and 18,000 pounds of propane
– Moved in a variety of generators
– 3.7 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water ready
– 300 ambulances working side by side with local officials

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 28, 2022

Chris Michael

Chris Michael

Florida is not just the flattest US state – much of it is at, or near, sea level.

That’s a concern. As my colleague Richard Luscombe noted yesterday: “One of the mantras of major hurricanes is that you can shelter from the wind – which is up to 155mph in the case of Hurricane Ian – but you can’t hide from the water.”

The storm surge of up to 18ft, as predicted by the National Hurricane Center in Florida, remains a great threat, according to FEMA.

Here’s where it is expected to hit:

Here is the latest peak storm surge potential for #Ian, issued 9/29 at 5 AM. More: https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/M1T1GfZ4ve

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 29, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/NHC_Atlantic/status/1575412476178374658″,”id”:”1575412476178374658″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”d4208c84-5c53-42de-a10d-97f92a8b300c”}}”/>

We’re really concerned about all of the inland flooding because it’s bringing with it a lot of rain and it’s going to move slowly, which means people in the path are going to experience the impacts for a long period of time,” Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), told CNN yesterday.

My biggest concerns is the water, the storm surge and flooding. Water is one of the leading causes of death, direct fatalities, in these storms. We know that a lot of people have evacuated but we also know there’s people that haven’t.”

AP reports that emergency crews are sawing through toppled trees to reach people in flooded homes, but with no electricity and virtually no cell service, it was impossible for many people to call for help from the hardest hit coastal areas where the surge came in.

“Portable towers are on the way for cell service. Chances are your loved ones do not have ability to contact you,” said the sheriff’s office in Collier County, which includes Naples.

“We can tell you as daylight reveals the aftermath, it’s going to be a hard day.”

Chris Michael

Chris Michael

Flooding is the key threat now posed by Ian – and it is central Florida, rather than Tampa Bay (which initially appeared in the hurricane’s sights) that is most at risk.

The NOAA says water levels are subsiding along the coast but hurricane conditions are possible along the coasts of northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, where a hurricane watch is in effect.

The agency said “life-threatening catastrophic flooding”, with major or even record river flooding, will continue across portions of central Florida.

Flash flood emergencies are in place in many areas:

A new FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY for locations including Sanford, Lake Mary, and Heathrow until 815 AM EDT. Seek higher ground now if in or around this area! pic.twitter.com/qDSgrK2Qhr

— NWS Melbourne (@NWSMelbourne) September 29, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/NWSMelbourne/status/1575425709731979266″,”id”:”1575425709731979266″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”7e9ff622-55f8-4e55-9a1b-d45cff6386a1″}}”>

A new FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY for locations including Sanford, Lake Mary, and Heathrow until 815 AM EDT. Seek higher ground now if in or around this area! pic.twitter.com/qDSgrK2Qhr

— NWS Melbourne (@NWSMelbourne) September 29, 2022

A FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY continues for Little Wekiva until 8:45 AM EDT. The river level is now reporting above the previous record level.

This is a particularly dangerous situation. Seek higher ground! pic.twitter.com/iDj5dOzqmy

— NWS Melbourne (@NWSMelbourne) September 29, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/NWSMelbourne/status/1575438276604862465″,”id”:”1575438276604862465″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”4f6168e7-c7f7-48c5-b6f1-ad55fc059563″}}”>

A FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY continues for Little Wekiva until 8:45 AM EDT. The river level is now reporting above the previous record level.

This is a particularly dangerous situation. Seek higher ground! pic.twitter.com/iDj5dOzqmy

— NWS Melbourne (@NWSMelbourne) September 29, 2022

And the National Hurricane Center is warning of huge amounts of rain along more or less the entire US east coast up to New York City:

Here is the latest rainfall forecast for #Ian, issued by the Weather Prediction Center https://t.co/3qxGBAr6Y1 pic.twitter.com/7yAb63IqMa

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 29, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/NHC_Atlantic/status/1575413092598456321″,”id”:”1575413092598456321″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”37f3b336-bde3-4b21-ad70-d8ca3648bc1b”}}”/>

Chris Michael

Chris Michael

Hospital doctor: “We didn’t anticipate that the roof would blow off”

The true extent of the damage across Florida remains difficult to assess, as many areas remain flooded and in some cases are bracing for the worst yet to come, with a huge storm surge expected.

But we do know that the storm has caused major damage to a key Florida intensive care hospital, HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital in Port Charlotte.

Workers install a flood barrier to secure Tampa General Hospital in anticipation of Hurricane Ian in Tampa, Florida on 27 September 2022.
Workers install a flood barrier to secure Tampa General Hospital in anticipation of Hurricane Ian in Tampa, Florida on 27 September 2022. Photograph: Cristóbal Herrera/EPA

The surge flooded its lower level emergency room, and tropical storm winds ripped off part of its fourth floor roof from its intensive care unit (ICU), a doctor told Associated Press.

Dr Birgit Bodine said she stayed at the hospital overnight expecting the night to be busy but “we didn’t anticipate that the roof would blow off on the fourth floor”.

The hole in the roof caused the ICU to flood from above and the hospital’s sickest patients, some on ventilators, were evacuated to other floors. The storm made two of the hospital’s four floors uninhabitable. Bodine said she feared for capacity issues today if the storm caused extensive harm to Florida residents.

“The ambulances may be coming soon and we don’t know where to put them in the hospital at this point,” she said. “Because we’re doubled and tripled up.”

Chris Michael

Chris Michael

Good morning, it’s Chris Michael covering the landfall of Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the US mainland.

Around 2.5 million Florida residents are without power as the monster storm at one point strengthened to just shy of maximum category 5 status, pushing out winds of 155mph at its center.

The storm has trapped people in flooded homes, damaged a hospital intensive care unit and is leaving a wake of destruction as it heads across Florida toward the Atlantic Coast. Nearly the entire state has been hit, with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 415 miles (665 km).

The National Hurricane Center said Ian had been downgraded to a tropical storm over land early Thursday, but was expected to regain near-hurricane strength after emerging over Atlantic waters near the Kennedy Space Center later in the day.

Much of the Gulf Coast remained inundated by ocean water, with storm surge inundation of 8 to 10 feet above ground level from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor, according to the center.

The hurricane previously killed several people in Cuba and knocked out power to the entire island.

A predicted storm surge of up to 18ft is liable to cause substantial flooding. The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, said it’s too late for residents who haven’t already fled to do so now. “It’s no longer possible to safely evacuate,” he said.

We’ll bring you all the developments as they happen. Meanwhile, please read our news story here:





Read More: Hurricane Ian: DeSantis says ‘we’ve never seen a flood like this’ as Biden declares disaster

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