Hurricane Ian: Biden says early reports show ‘what may be substantial loss of life’– live | Hurricane Ian

Biden: early reports show ‘what may be substantial loss of life’

There are reports of “what may be substantial loss of life,” president Joe Biden said while speaking at the FEMA headquarters in Washington DC this afternoon.

Speaking about Hurricane Ian, Biden said, “It is still moving across the state today. This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. The numbers are still unclear but we are hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.”

The president continued, “My message to the people of Florida and to the country: At times like this, America comes together. We’re going to pull together as one team, as one America.”

“However long it takes, we’re going to get there,” Biden said, adding, “That’s my commitment to you.”

Key events

Joanna Walters

Joanna Walters

Florida governor Ron DeSantis is holding a press conference now and describing how some coastal areas near Fort Myers took “a huge, huge wallop” from the hurricane.

He described Sanibel Island there as, simply, “destruction” to “a beautiful place, really neat community.”

“They got hit with biblical storm surge, it’s washed away roads, washed away structures,” he said, also mentioning, as earlier reported, the collapse of a chunk of the road bridge connecting the island to the mainland near Fort Myers Beach.

“Let’s work on Sanibel and let’s bring it back as soon as we can,” he said.

Over 70 medical responders and supplies from the National Disaster Medical System have been deployed to Florida to assist with post-hurricane rescue and recovery efforts.

“We’re monitoring the situation and we’re prepared to provide additional support as needed,” said Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

We’ve deployed more than 70 medical responders and supplies from the National Disaster Medical System to help support Floridians affected by #HurricaneIan. We’re monitoring the situation and we’re prepared to provide additional support as needed.

— Dawn O’Connell (@HHS_ASPR) September 29, 2022

In this photo provided by the Orange County Fire Rescue's Public Information Office, firefighters in Orange County, Fla., help people stranded by Hurricane Ian early Thursday, Sept.  29, 2022.
In this photo provided by the Orange County Fire Rescue’s Public Information Office, firefighters in Orange County, Fla., help people stranded by Hurricane Ian early Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Photograph: AP

Biden: early reports show ‘what may be substantial loss of life’

There are reports of “what may be substantial loss of life,” president Joe Biden said while speaking at the FEMA headquarters in Washington DC this afternoon.

Speaking about Hurricane Ian, Biden said, “It is still moving across the state today. This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. The numbers are still unclear but we are hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.”

The president continued, “My message to the people of Florida and to the country: At times like this, America comes together. We’re going to pull together as one team, as one America.”

“However long it takes, we’re going to get there,” Biden said, adding, “That’s my commitment to you.”

Charlotte county officials said on Thursday that they are cautious the worst-case scenarios come optimistically as a result of Huan did not.

Speaking at a press conference, Charlotte county’s emergency management director Patrick Fuller said, “We’re cautiously optimistic that the worst-case scenario that was forecast did not come true.”

Nevertheless, he added that “there is damage throughout the county that we are continuing to assess.”

“The integrity of the homes is far better than we islands, but we have rescue crews and federal and state assets whose main priority is to ensure that they gain access to those,” he added.

The county is currently going through one of the most widespread power outages across the state, with nearly 90% of tracked customers reporting outages, according to PowerOutages.us.

“If you decided to evacuate, now is not the time to return regardless of where you live in Charlotte County. The roads are extremely dangerous with many unknown hazards,” the county said in a Facebook post.

The electricity services company Florida Power and Light has restored service to over 500,000 customers that have been hit by Hurricane Ian.

Nevertheless, it “anticipates some customers will face prolonged outages because portions of the electric system in Southwest Florida will need to be rebuilt rather than repaired,” the company said in a statement, Reuters reports.

According to the FPL, it increased its restoration workforce from 13,000 prior to the storm to over 20,000, including assistance from utilities and others in 30 states.

Florida Power & Light is currently the utility with the most outages across Florida.

A man has died overnight in Volusia county during the storm, local authorities announced.

In a statement released on Thursday morning, the Volusia sheriff’s department said that a 72-year-old Deltona man died overnight after he went outside during the storm to drain his pool.

“Deputies responded to a home on Poinciana Lane near Lake Bethel around 1 am after the victim’s wife reported he disappeared after heading outside. While searching for him, deputies found his flashlight of him, then spotted the unresponsive victim in a channel behind the home.

Several deputies pulled the victim from the water and performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but the victim could not be revived. He was later died at the hospital,” the statement said.

According to initial investigation findings, the man was attempting to use a hose to drain the pool down a hill and into a 30-foot-wide canal, “where a steep decline into the water was extremely soft and slippery due to the heavy rain. ”

The county’s curfew which was in place last night has been extended until 7am Friday morning, said Volusia county manager George Recktenwald.

Video has emerged of a shopping centerer sign collapsing in Jacksonville, Florida just as a reporter was about to go on air.

Hurricane Ian: shopping center sign collapses as reporters prepare to go on air – video

The First Coast News reporter can be see darting back in shock as the structure collapsed.

“Please tell me you were recording…oh my gosh!” she said.

Meanwhile, another reporter has gone viral after she appeared to use a condom to keep her microphone dry while reporting in the storm.

NBC2 reporter Kyla Galer confirmed her unconventional protective equipment, saying, “It helps protect the gear, we can’t get these mics wet. There’s a lot of wind, there’s a lot of rain so we gotta do what we gotta do.”

A video of a man rescuing a cat during Hurricane Ian in south-west Florida has gone viral overnight, prompting praise from many viewers.

“My boyfriend saving a cat from flood waters near Bonita Beach,” he wrote Megan Cruz Scavo in a caption that accompanied a video of her boyfriend, 29-year old Mike Ross, treading across knee-deep water to rescue a terrified-looking cat sitting atop an air conditioner.

Ross’s mother, Marybeth Ross, filmed the rescue and can be heard saying, “Look at Michael saving the kitty. Awww!”

The video has since been viewed 3.1 million times on Twitter and has garnered significant praise and celebration.

“I’m sorry Megan, but he is everyone’s boyfriend now. I don’t make the rules,” wrote one user.

“Watching him approach the cat with respect was beautiful! That poor sweetie was clearly afraid, and she trusted him to care for it,” someone else said.

A hospital in Englewood, Florida is transferring patients to its other facilities as a result of the storm.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, HCA Florida Englewood Hospital announced that it has suspended all services and is currently “transferring patients to other HCA Florida Healthcare hospitals” as a “necessary step in preparing for Hurricane Ian.”

The hospital has also set up patient reunification hotline for patients’ families.

Hurricane Ian moving toward the north-east

Hurricane Ian is moving toward the north-east near 8 mph (13 km/h), according to an advisory released by the National Hurricane Center this morning.

“A turn toward the north-northeast is expected later today, followed by a turn toward the north and north-northwest with an increase in forward speed Friday and Friday night,” it said.

The center of the hurricane is expected to move off the east-central coast of Florida and will make its way to the coast of South Carolina on Friday.

On Friday night and Saturday, the center will move farther inland cross the Carolinas, the advisory said, adding that maximum sustained winds will remain near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts.

Guardian graphic on Hurricane Ian’s path

Section of major Florida bridge destroyed by hurricane

A section of the Sanibel Causeway – a major roadway connecting the Sanibel and Captiva Islands to the mainland – has been destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

“Where the bridge rises from the mainland toward the island, one of the first sections of the span has disappeared. Crumbled pavement lies near the water’s edge. The rest of the bridge stretches forward, unreachable,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The pavement surrounding the bridge is described to have “folded up like an accordion, ripped to ribbons.”

“Two cars tried to pass out to the island about 1:30 am, including a group of young men hoping to reach their friend. They had to turn around,” the outlet added.

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

The 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 obligation 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 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 had two unconfirmed fatalities” that may be linked to the storm.

DeSantis: ‘We’ve never seen a flood event like this’

“We’ve never seen a flood event like this. We’ve never seen storm arises 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.”

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