'Substantial Loss of Life' Is Possible in Florida: Biden

First storm deaths are reported as president declares major disaster
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2022 1:49 PM CDT
'Substantial Loss of Life' Is Possible in Florida: Biden
President Biden speaks about Hurricane Ian at FEMA headquarters in Washington on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Biden warned Thursday that Hurricane Ian could turn out to be the deadliest storm in Florida history, causing a "substantial loss of life." Biden made the remarks at the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NBC News reports. The first storm deaths were reported, per USA Today, when the Lee County sheriff said five people had been killed there. Also on Thursday, Biden declared a major disaster in Florida, sending federal aid to nine counties. The number of counties receiving aid can be expanded as they report damage.

"The federal government will cover 100% of the cost to clear debris, and for all the costs the state has to engage in and expand to save lives," Biden said, per the Washington Post. Most of the cost of rebuilding public buildings will be covered by the government, he said. The president also thanked FEMA employees for their work on his headquarters visit. Ian was lowered to a tropical storm early in the day. The president said he would visit Florida when "conditions allow," per the AP. “We know many families are hurting,” Biden said. “Our entire country hurts with them." (More Hurricane Ian stories.)

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