Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared during a news conference at the state Emergency Operations Center on Sept. 28, 2022, flanked by agency chiefs. Credit: Michael Moline
UPDATE: “Extremely dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Ian makes landfall in southwestern Florida.”
Hurricane Ian is ravaging southwest Florida Wednesday afternoon, with storm surges, flooding, 155 mile per hour winds, some cars underwater and many homes without power.
Just after 3 p.m., The Weather Channel reported that Ian made landfall on the southwest coast of the peninsula. And the National Hurricane Center officially reported that Ian made landfall at 3:05 p.m. near Cayo Costa in Lee County on the Gulf of Mexico side of the peninsula.
As the Category 4 storm continues, Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Floridians to prepare for a long recovery.
The governor said that he’s declared a disaster zone encompassing all of Florida’s 67 counties and plans to ask the Biden administration to cover 100 percent of the recovery bill for at least the first 60 days. Usually, the state picks up a quarter of these costs.
During a news conference at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, DeSantis reported 200,000 power outages as of 1 p.m. with more to come. Some 42,000 linemen from Florida and 27 other states are in place to restore power, but the challenge is massive, he said, and damage likely will extend to core infrastructure in the power grid.
“Two hundred thousand is a drop in the bucket compared to what’s going to happen,” the governor said.
“Have we had storms that have been as strong as this hit Florida — Michael, Hurricane Andrew, the Labor Day hurricane many years ago. Have we had big storms that left a lot of water and flooding? We had Irma recently. This is really bringing both to the table,” he said.
“The effects of this are going to be broad, and we appreciate the Biden administration’s consideration for the people of Florida during this time of need.”
Additionally, there will be roads to clear of downed trees and bridges to inspect, he noted.
In terms of rescue, the state has amassed 250 aircraft, 1,500 high-water vehicles, and 300 boats to search for people in distress, including those who ignored evacuation orders, DeSantis said, adding that Alabama was sending Blackhawk helicopters.
Flanking DeSantis during the news conference were representatives of an array of state agencies assisting in the storm mobilization, which the governor earlier in the day said has been the most massive to date.
They included Simone Marsteller, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, who said her department was monitoring conditions in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals. More than 7,000 patients have been evacuated from 150 facilities she said.
The state has activated 5,000 Florida National Guard troops and other states have contributed 2,000 more, DeSantis said, with aircraft and search and rescue teams mobilized. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission is contributing land vehicles aircraft and watercraft, and the U.S. Coast Guard is also on standby.
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