President Joe Biden on Tuesday said his administration is “on alert and in action” as Hurricane Ian heads toward Florida.
Biden said 700 Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel were already in place and that Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had activated 5,000 members of the state’s National Guard to prepare for landfall.
Another 2,000 members of the Guard are going to Florida from other states, Biden said at an event at the White House’s Rose Garden.
“FEMA is also proposing and prepositioning 3.5 million liters of water, 3.7 million meals and hundreds of generators,” Biden said.
After landing in Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane Tuesday morning, Biden warned that Ian will be “a very severe” and life-threatening hurricane when it hits Florida on Wednesday.
Biden said he had made calls to the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida cities expected to get hit hard by Ian, the largest hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.
“I told each one of them … whatever they need, contact me directly, and they know how to do that,” Biden said.
While Biden did not mention speaking to DeSantis, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell was pressed about whether the two leaders had talked at the White House press briefing.
Criswell said she spoke to the governor at the president’s direction before an emergency was declared for the state, and Gracia Szczech, the FEMA regional administrator over Florida, is currently stationed in the state emergency operations office.
“My regional administrator is with the governor right now, making sure that we’re understanding what the needs are,” Criswell said. “And our focus is on the current life safety needs that need to be met.”
The president also asked all Floridians to follow evacuation orders so to remain safe.