Update on Biden-⁠Harris Administration’s Response to Hurricane Ian

Washington -- FACT SHEET: Update on Biden-⁠Harris Administration’s Response to Hurricane Ian
SEPTEMBER 30, 2022•STATEMENTS AND RELEASES


In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ian, President Biden has directed his entire Administration to prioritize lifesaving actions and ensure delivery of essential services and support to survivors.

The recent steps the President has taken to ensure everything possible is done to help the communities impacted by Hurricane Ian include:

Additional actions taken in the last 24 hours:

Today, President Biden spoke with Governor DeSantis and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to receive an update on response efforts. At the direction of President Biden, FEMA Administrator Criswell is in Florida to ensure the state’s needs are being met and assess where additional support is most urgently needed.

Last night, an additional four counties in Florida were approved for Individual Assistance and Debris Removal as part of the major disaster declaration for the state of Florida, and more may be added in the coming days.

The President approved a pre-landfall emergency declaration for South Carolina last night, again prepositioning life-saving Federal resources as Hurricane Ian strengthened again in the Atlantic and is expected to make landfall later today.

The President directed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to speed the deployment of additional Cells on Wheels (COWS) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS) to provide access to cell service in communities where communications have been degraded by the storm or where demand for access is impacted by the deployment of large numbers of response personnel who depend upon wireless communications to deliver urgently needed assistance.

The President spoke with Governor DeSantis to again offer full Federal support. The President also spoke with the County Commissioner of Lee County, Florida, to offer his support. Over the last few days, the President has spoken with Mayors across the State to better understand the needs of their communities and ensure those needs are being met.

Yesterday, the President received an operational briefing early Thursday afternoon from  Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Linda Fagan, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Scott Spellmon, and President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross on the situation on the ground in Florida and ongoing response and recovery efforts, as well as preparations for Ian’s anticipated landfall along the Atlantic coast.
Supporting life-saving response work and surging support on the ground:

The President authorized the deployment nearly 2,000 Federal response personnel to Florida within 24 hours of the storm making landfall to enable immediate response operations.

The President directed the deployment of an unprecedented Search and Rescue Coordination Group before the storm made landfall.  This group, led by FEMA, began conducting search and rescue operations before daylight at 4:00 AM ET 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. By the end of the day, they had already saved hundreds of lives.

At the President’s direction, dozens of Coast Guard helicopters and rescue boats were pre-deployed to support search and rescue operations, and the Department of Defense readied additional helicopters, highwater vehicles, high water ladders and other materiel to support rescue operations.  Up to 16 Coast Guard aircraft flew near continuously since daybreak yesterday, rescuing over 80 people along the southwest Florida coast, including both rooftop and inland rescues. 

At the President’s direction, the Army Corps of Engineers deployed over 400 personnel to conduct engineering evaluations about the safety of bridges, roads, and other infrastructure and to assess emergency power needs. 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. This supplements 44,000 utility workers from Florida and 32 states that have been surged to the region by electric utilities to support power restoration efforts via mutual aid agreements.

The Department of Health and Human Services promptly declared a Public Health Emergency and deployed three disaster medical assistance teams to the region to support emerging health and medical needs.   

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
Issuing Federal disaster assistance:

Early Thursday morning, President Biden approved an expedited major disaster declaration for the state of Florida, providing Individual Assistance and Debris Removal for 9 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.  
President Biden approved a pre-landfall emergency declaration for Florida on September 24, to ensure lifesaving resources and Federal responders were pre-positioned in advance of potential storm impacts.
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