Biden says it will take ‘years’ to rebuild from Hurricane Ian
President Biden on Friday said it would take “years” to rebuild from Hurricane Ian, which dealt a serious blow to Florida and is now approaching the South Carolina coast.
Biden said the largest search and rescue team in recent U.S. history has been deployed and 117 people have already been rescued along the southwest Florida coast. The Coast Guard saved people ranging from a 94-year-old woman to a 1-month-old baby, he said.
“You’ve all seen on television, homes and property wiped out. It’s going to take months and years to rebuild. And our hearts go out to all those folks whose lives have been absolutely devastated by the storm. America’s heart is literally breaking,” Biden said in remarks at the White House.
The president spoke earlier on Friday with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), and he approved an emergency declaration for South Carolina late Thursday.
In his remarks, Biden recognized the 44,000 utility workers from 33 states and Washington, D.C., who are working to get the power back on for Florida and said he ordered more than 400 personnel from the Army Corps of Engineers to Florida with more than 250 generators to enable power for locations like hospitals and shelters.
Additionally, he said a homeland security adviser has met with electric sector leaders to make sure they’re coordinating with owners and operators of the grid to ensure the power gets back on.
Biden sent a signal that partisan politics should be put aside as the nation responds to the storm, which delivered its first blow to a state led by DeSantis — a GOP governor who has been a sparring partner of Biden’s and may run for president in 2024.
“In times like these, Americans come together. They put aside politics, they put aside division. We could together to help each other, because we know if it were us who just lost our homes or our loved ones, we’d hope people would show up to help us as well,” Biden said.
Twenty-one deaths have been reported in Florida as of Friday morning in the aftermath of the hurricane. More than 1.9 million people were without power.