FEMA warns Florida against complacency as Hurricane Ian nears
WASHINGTON — The U.S. federal emergency agency warned Florida residents not to be complacent about Hurricane Ian, while President Joe Biden has called mayors in three Florida cities in the storm’s path to offer support.
It has been over 100 years since Tampa, where Ian is forecast to make landfall, has taken a direct hit from a hurricane.
Ian slammed into Cuba on Tuesday, forcing evacuations, cutting power to nearly 1 million people and tearing roofs off homes.
Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell said the agency is especially concerned about storm surges.
“Floridians are going to experience the impacts from this storm for a very long time,” she said, because the storm is expected to slow to 5 miles per hour (8 km per hour) as it hits land. Storm surges could reach 10 feet (3 meters), she said, and some isolated parts of Florida could see 25 inches (64 cm) of rain.
Some residents may not be concerned enough about the impacts, she said.
“I do have concerns about complacency,” Criswell said. “We’re talking about impacts in a part of Florida that hasn’t seen a major direct impact in nearly 100 years. There’s also parts of Florida where there’s a lot of new residents.”
The U.S. government has in place 128,000 gallons of fuel, 300 Army Corp of Engineer personnel, 3.7 million meals and over 3 million gallons of water, 29 Red Cross shelters, 200 ambulances and four medical teams, Criswell said.
Biden has yet to speak directly to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, she said, but that had “zero” impact on FEMA’s storm preparedness.
“We are going to support whatever Governor DeSantis asks of us. We signed his emergency declaration within hours of him sending it in,” she said.
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