Biden: Hurricane Ian could be 'deadliest' in Florida's history, reports of 'substantial' deaths
Federal disaster declaration signed as Florida reels from storm's impact.
President Joe Biden on Thursday forecasted a potentially devastating death toll from Hurricane Ian, claiming it could prove to be the most fatal storm in Florida's long history of hurricanes.
“This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. The numbers are still unclear, but we’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life,” the president said during a visit to the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA has been overseeing rapid recovery efforts in Florida after the storm blew through the state on Wednesday.
Biden said authorities are "continuing to see deadly rainfall, catastrophic storm surges, roads and homes flooded."
"We’re seeing millions of people without power and thousands hunkered down in schools and community centers," he noted.
Officials have been scrambling to begin rescue and cleanup efforts in the state. Of particular urgency has been the massive power outages that have thrown more than a million state residents into darkness.
State Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday revealed that the counties of Lee and Charlotte—roughly where Ian made landfall earlier this week—are effectively severed from the larger power grid and would require extensive repairs to begin getting systems back online there.