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Biden says his administration is ‘on alert and in action’ to help with Hurricane Ian



CNN

The White House is closely monitoring Hurricane Ian as it moves toward Florida, with President Joe Biden receiving regular updates and speaking with local officials about the storm’s projected path before it makes landfall in the United States.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Hurricane Ian remains a Category 3. The storm’s winds increased slightly to 120 miles per hour, after tapering off as a result of making landfall in western Cuba. Ian is expected to continue to strengthen later on Tuesday and become a Category 4 before the end of the day. It is expected to arrive in Florida on Wednesday.

“(The) forecast may change, but for now the experts say this could be a very severe, life-threatening hurricane with devastating impact,” Biden said from the Rose Garden on Tuesday at an event on lowering the costs of medical care. “The administration is on alert and in action to help the people of Florida.”

Biden spoke with the Republican governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a cheep“to discuss steps the federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian.”

“The president and the governor committed to close coordination,” said Jean-Pierre.

Jean-Pierre said earlier during Tuesday’s news conference that Biden held separate calls with Mayors Jane Castor of Tampa, Ken Welch of St. Petersburg and Frank Hibbard of Clearwater.

Biden later said that the mayors he called are “focused on the safety of their communities and doing everything they can to get people out of harm’s way.” The president conveyed that he “told each of them in my separate conversations, whatever they need, I mean it, whatever they need, to contact me directly.”

Additionally, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell said Tuesday that she spoke with the governor on Friday at the president’s request.

“I spoke with the governor. DeSantis on Friday to hear your top concerns and your priorities for response and preparedness actions. And immediately we started moving resources and personnel, and President Biden signed the governor. Request for emergency declaration before DeSantis landfall on Saturday. This ensured that we could immediately begin to support the governor’s concerns that he conveyed to me,” Criswell said.

He later added: “The president directed me to contact the governor before we signed the declaration. I did. My regional administrator is with the governor right now making sure we understand what the needs are and our focus is on the current life safety needs that need to be met.”

Criswell added that Biden asked mayors about their needs and their progress with mandatory evacuation orders in their cities during his calls.

During his remarks, Biden urged Floridians to listen to local officials and follow evacuation orders, saying their “safety is more important than anything else.”

“I know our hearts go out to everyone who will feel the effects of this storm. And we will be with you every step of the way,” she added. “We’re not going to go.”

Criswell said he also spoke by phone Monday with the governors of South Carolina and Georgia about the possible effects of the storm on their states.

Castor said Tuesday that the forecast for Hurricane Ian’s effect on the city “hasn’t changed much” as the slow-moving storm is expected to bring a “devastating amount of water” to the Tampa Bay area.

Castor said that on the call with Biden and Criswell, the president “just wanted to make sure we had all the resources we needed and clearly wished us well.”

This story has been updated with additional information on Tuesday.


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