Emergency officials scrambled to rescue additional survivors and restore power Friday after Hurricane Ian tore through Florida.
The federal government deployed six fixed-wing aircraft, 18 rescue boats and 16 rescue helicopters, which were in the air all day Thursday and Friday, President Joe Biden told reporters Friday.
“We’ve pre-deployed the largest team of search-and-rescue experts in recent history because so many of the rescuers need to take place now — need to be there in place now, in the water now,” Biden said as Hurricane Ian made landfall in South Carolina.
Those rescued so far included a 94-year-old woman who was hoisted up into a helicopter and a month-old baby, Biden said.
State officials said 10,000 Floridians had yet to be accounted for (Greenwire, Sept. 30).
“I just want the people of Florida to know we see what you’re going through and we’re with you,” Biden said. “America’s heart is literally breaking.”
He lamented the loss of homes and property caused by the hurricane. “It’s going to take months — years to rebuild, and our hearts go out to all those folks whose lives have been absolutely devastated by this storm,” Biden said.
The president noted that 44,000 utility workers were deployed to get power back on for Floridians. More than 400 personnel from the Army Corps of Engineers have been dispatched to Florida with more than 250 generators to keep power on at locations including hospitals and shelters, Biden added.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier Friday that 1.9 million customers were still without power.