1/2Ian Latest: Biden to Visit Florida Wednesday as Death Toll Jumps
- 2/2Ian Latest: Biden to Visit Florida Wednesday as Death Toll Jumps
Sun, 2 October 2022 at 9:14 pm
(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden will visit Florida on Wednesday to survey the damage left behind by Ian, the once-massive storm that has now killed at least 47 people in the state.
Ahead of his trip to Florida, the president will also go on Monday to Puerto Rico, which was hit earlier in September by Hurricane Fiona, the White House said. Biden, who has pledged to commit the full strength of the federal government to recovery efforts, said on Saturday that Florida’s hurricane damage is “likely to rank among the worst” in US history. On Sunday, power and communications operators reported a significant return of services.
The latest Florida death toll, revised up from 28 earlier in the day, means that Ian has now caused at least 54 fatalities, according to the Associated Press. That includes four deaths in North Carolina and three in Cuba.
Ian, which had weakened to a post-tropical cyclone, “fully dissipated overnight,” the National Weather Service reported. “Widespread showers and storms” will continue in the mid-Atlantic and central Appalachians, reaching southern New Jersey.
Florida Cell Service Returning With Gaps in Hard-Hit Areas (3:51 p.m.)
Cell-service has been restored across most of Florida, though the hardest-hit counties are still experiencing significant zones without signal, according to a report from the Federal Communications Commission Sunday.
The report listed the top counties by percentage with cell sites still not operational: DeSoto 38.5%; Hardee 33.3%; Charlotte 20.2%; and Lee 19.5%.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced Saturday that Elon Musks’s SpaceX will deploy 120 units of its Starlink satellites to southwest Florida to provide Internet service for those affected.
More Than 820,000 in Florida Remain Without Power (1:12 p.m.)
About 822,000 customers remain without power in Florida, according to PowerOutage.US. That’s a recovery from the peak of 2.7 million customers without power after Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida on Wednesday.
In North Carolina, where the storm hit on Friday, there are close to 21,000 customers without power.
‘Old Florida’ Flattened by Hurricane, Rubio Says (12:21 p.m.)
Some of Florida’s oldest and most popular beach destinations devastated by Hurricane Ian will never look the same, Senator Marco Rubio said on Sunday.
Fort Myers Beach, a seaside tourist town, “no longer exists,” Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week.” Sanibel Island, another barrier island along Florida’s southwest coast, has also been ravaged, he said.
“This is a character-altering event,” he said.
FEMA Head Warns of Post-Storm Hazards (9:50 a.m.)
People working to clean up after Hurricane Ian need to “stay vigilant right now” because of the potential danger amid debris, downed power lines and other hazards, warned Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We see so many more injuries and sometimes more fatalities after the storm, because there are so many dangers out there,” Criswell said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Standing water brings with it all kinds of hazards…We want to make sure that people are being extra cautious.”
Biden to Visit Puerto Rico, Florida (10:39 p.m.)
President Joe Biden will travel to Puerto Rico on Monday and Florida on Wednesday to survey the damage there after vowing to commit the full strength of the federal government to recovery efforts in the wake of two devastating hurricanes.
The president will be accompanied by the first lady, the White House said.
Ian Expected to End by Sunday Morning (5:12 p.m.)
Storm Ian is expected to dissipate on Sunday morning, the National Weather Service said in an update. By 5 p.m., the storm had slowed over Virginia, moving east-northeast at about 6 miles an hour with maximum sustained winds near 25 miles per hour, the service reported.
Central Florida will continue to experience “major to record” river flooding through next week. Areas of Maryland and West Virginia may also experience several inches of rain into Sunday morning, with the potential of some flooding.
Four Die in North Carolina (4:06 p.m.)
Four storm-related deaths were reported in North Carolina: one drowning, two in vehicle accidents and one poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator, Governor Roy Cooper’s office reported.
Power was restored to about half the 418,000 customers who had lost electricity on Friday night, his office said in a press release Saturday.
No Deaths in South Carolina, Governor Says (3:09 p.m.)
South Carolina suffered no deaths despite being hit by winds as high as 92 miles an hour from Hurricane Ian on Friday, Governor Henry McMaster said in a press briefing Saturday. Unlike Florida, there has been relatively little flooding, and most electricity has already been restored, he said.
“We know that we have much cleaning up and rebuilding to do,” McMaster said. “There’s some heartbreak, there’s work to be done. But all in all it’s a good story.”
Florida Governor Says Flooding Did Most Damage (2:47 p.m. NY)
Florida suffered more damage from flooding caused by Hurricane Ian than strong winds, Governor Ron DeSantis said Saturday.
“When you’ve got a torrent of water coming in, there’s really nothing you can do about that, so that’ll require a lot of flood claims being filed,” DeSantis said at a news briefing in Fort Myers.
DeSantis added that nearly 55% of power has been restored to those affected by power outages. Power has been restored to 1.5 million customers serviced by Florida Power & Light, with another 650,000 customers still without power, said FPL president and chief executive officer Eric Silagy.
Biden Briefed on Damage, Restoration of Power and Water (2:26 p.m.)
President Joe Biden was briefed by advisers including Chief of Staff Ron Klain on the damage from the storm, focusing on power and water restoration in Florida and damage in South Carolina, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet.
Ian Weakens as It Moves North (12:15 a.m.)
Post-tropical cyclone Ian continued to weaken midday Saturday as it moved north through North Carolina and toward Virginia, according to a National Weather Service update at 11 a.m.
Maximum sustained winds slowed to to 25 mph (40 kph), the service reported. Another 1-3 inches or rain was expected to fall across the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, “with local heavier amounts possible.”
Across central Florida, “major to record river flooding” is expected over the next week.
Biden Calls Storm Damage ‘Among Worst’ Ever in US (10:41 a.m.)
President Biden said the damage from storm Ian “is likely to rank among the worst” in US history.
Few Florida Homes Covered for Flooding (9:12 a.m.)
A majority of Florida homeowners caught in the hurricane’s path now face rebuilding without the benefit of flood insurance — and some might not even realize they’re uncovered.
Only 18% of all Florida homes — of which there more than 10 million, per census data — have flood insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. And some property owners harbor the misconception that policies protecting against damage from wind and rain will also apply to losses brought on by rising water.
Officials in Florida County Delayed Evacuation, NYT Says (3:53 a.m.)
Emergency officials in Lee County, Florida, only issued a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hit the most by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday, giving residents less time to evacuate, the New York Times reported.
While much of the areas set to be affected had told their residents to flee on Monday, Lee County officials opted to wait to see how forecasts for the hurricane evolved overnight. At least 16 storm-related deaths have been identified in Lee County, the highest toll anywhere in the state, the newspaper said.
Biden Declares Emergency in North Carolina (1:51 a.m.)
US President Joe Biden has declared an emergency in the state of North Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Ian, and ordered federal assistance to supplement response efforts, according to a statement released by the White House.
Cuba Requests US Aid After Devastation, WSJ Says (7:38 p.m.)
Cuba’s government is seeking emergency assistance from the US in the aftermath of Ian’s devastation, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing email communications.
No exact amount was requested and the US is trying to determine if Cuba will supplement its request, the newspaper said. Havana is making the rare request as it contends with an economic crisis and while its longtime supporter Russia struggles with the war in Ukraine.