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Biden warns Hurricane Ian ‘could be deadliest’ in Florida history

President Biden on Thursday urged residents of flooded areas in southwestern Florida to remain indoors as Hurricane Ian’s waters recede, warning that the storm could bring a historic number of casualties.

“This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. And numbers are still unclear, but we’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life,” Biden said during a visit to the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“While the water is receding, don’t go outside unless you absolutely have to. It’s risky for you and it impedes first responders from doing their job,” Biden said.

Biden said he intends to visit Florida “when the conditions allow it” and reassured residents of generous federal aid to clear debris and rebuild.

“Folks in Florida who have destroyed or damaged homes and you don’t have enough insurance, it means the federal government will provide individual assistance of $37,900 for home repairs and another $37,900 for lost property — for everything from an automobile to a lost wedding ring,” Biden said.

The Category 4 hurricane battered Florida’s retirement coast between Sarasota and Naples when it came ashore Wednesday afternoon, causing significant wind and flood damage, with early reports indicating hundreds of people may have died.

President Biden warned Florida residents to remain indoors in the wake of Hurricane Ian during remarks at FEMA headquarters on September 29, 2022.
President Biden warned Florida residents to remain indoors in the wake of Hurricane Ian during remarks at FEMA headquarters on September 29, 2022.
Photo by OLIVER CONTRERAS/AFP via Getty Images

The president told reporters that he’s spoken with the state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis “four or five times already” and bristled at a question about his relationship with his potential 2024 presidential rival.

“That’s totally irrelevant, but I’ll answer it, okay? In fact, very fine. He complimented me. He thanked me for the immediate response we had. He told me how much he appreciated it, said he was extremely happy with what was going on,” Biden said of DeSantis.

“This is not about whether an anything having to do with our disagreements politically. This is about saving people’s lives, homes and businesses. That’s what this is about.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell on Tuesday caused a stir by implying that Biden would not be calling DeSantis after he phoned three Florida mayors. After receiving blowback, Biden called DeSantis that night.

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