In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, President Biden has directed his Administration to prioritize lifesaving actions, ensure delivery of essential services, and offer support to survivors across multiple states.
President Biden traveled to Fort Myers, Florida, where he and First Lady met with local residents and small business owners impacted by Hurricane Ian. They surveyed the damage, received an operational briefing on ongoing recovery efforts, and thanked federal, state, and local officials working around the clock to provide life-saving assistance and supporting recovery. Since before Hurricane Ian made landfall, President Biden has been in regular touch with the FEMA Administrator, the Governor of Florida, and local officials in Florida to ensure needs are being met on the ground.
Actions the President has taken to date to ensure everything possible is done to help communities impacted by Hurricane Ian include: Issuing Federal Disaster Assistance:
- President Biden issued an Expedited Major Disaster Declaration for the state of Florida, providing Individual Assistance and Debris Removal for 17 counties, and 100% direct Federal assistance for costs associated with search and rescue, sheltering, feeding, and other emergency measures to save lives for 30 days.
- The President announced that he will double the amount of time the Federal government picks up those costs – to 60 days.
- To date, FEMA has already registered hundreds of thousands of households and pushed tens of millions of dollars out the door for Individual Assistance to provide impacted families with money to replace essential items, support temporary rentals, and begin home repairs.
- President Biden issued a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration for Florida to ensure lifesaving resources and Federal responders were pre-positioned in advance of potential storm impacts on September 24.
- President Biden issued a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration for South Carolina on September 29.
- President Biden issued an Expedited Major Disaster Declaration for the Seminole Tribe of Florida on October 1.
- President Biden issued an Emergency Declaration for North Carolina on October 1.
Supporting Life-Saving Response Work:
- FEMA and the State of Florida opened the first Disaster Recovery Center in Fort Myers at the Lakes Regional Library to provide services from more than 10 Federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations. These centers enable survivors to access and register for disaster assistance, as well as opportunities to meet with insurance providers and replace lost documents.
- Currently, there are more than 4,000 Federal response personnel working in Florida and the Southeast.
- The President directed the deployment of an unprecedented number of Search and Rescue teams. This group, led by FEMA, began conducting search and rescue operations at first daylight on September 29. Teams came from across the Federal government and included skilled rescuers from FEMA Urban Search and Rescue task forces, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, Customs and Border Protection, the Department of the Interior, and state and local responders. Together, they have rescued more than 3,800 people and 200 pets.
- FEMA has over 4 million meals and 10 million bottles of water available for distribution in Florida.
- The Department of Health and Human Services promptly declared a Public Health Emergency and deployed medical assistance teams to the region to support emerging health and medical needs.
- The Department of Agriculture approved a waiver to allow purchase of hot foods with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and will issue funds for food replacement to impacted households.
- At the President’s direction, FEMA activated a medical support contract for ambulances and paratransit seats, including 400 ambulances, 15 bariatric paratransit ambulances, and four rotary aircraft to evacuate medically vulnerable individuals in nursing homes and other medical facilities as needed.
Supporting Key Recovery Efforts:
- Power has been restored to 2.5 million customers in Florida since peak outages. Nearly 44,000 utility workers from 33 states and the District of Columbia are supporting restoration efforts.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing eligible homeowners with temporary roof repairs through the Operation Blue Roof program, which began on Oct. 3. Through this program, the Army Corps provides a temporary blue covering with fiber-reinforced sheeting to help reduce further damage to property until permanent repairs can be made.
- At the President’s direction, the Army Corps of Engineers has deployed over 550 personnel to conduct engineering assessments for water infrastructure and emergency power needs, and to support debris removal. They are installing generators to support critical infrastructure, focusing on hospitals and long-term care facilities, water treatment and wastewater plants, and public safety organizations such as 911 call centers.
- Through the work of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Tampa Bay maritime community, the Port of Tampa Bay was reopened on September 30. This significant milestone helps support Hurricane Ian recovery efforts across the state of Florida. The Port of Tampa Bay provides nearly half of Florida with its fuel supply and supports tens of thousands of jobs.
- Looking ahead to the urgent needs of hurricane survivors, the President has asked FEMA to focus on the housing needs of survivors as well as other immediate challenges they will face in recovering from Ian. FEMA Administrator Criswell established an interagency Recovery Leadership Team to proactively address the recovery needs of individual survivors and expedite assistance to those in desperate need of help.
Investing in Long-term Resilience:
- A total of $5.2 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding has been approved for Florida, with over 100 specific projects already identified including, funding for repairs to roads and bridges repair, public transportation enhancements, and lead pipe replacement.