Search and rescue efforts underway in Florida after ‘catastrophic’ hurricane

An aerial photo taken on Sept. 30, 2022 shows the only access to the Matlacha neighborhood destroyed after Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida.

Ricardo Arduengo | AFP | Getty Images

Search and rescue efforts are underway in Florida after a devastating Category 4 hurricane made landfall on Wednesday.

At least 77 people have been confirmed dead and more than 860,000 people are still without power, according to NBC News. There is “significant damage” along Florida’s west coast, and many homes in central parts of the state are still flooded, FEMA Director Deanne Criswell told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

She said the road to recovery will be long.

“We’re still active in the search and rescue phase trying to make sure we’re considering everyone who was in the path of the storm and going through each home to make sure we don’t leave anyone behind,” she said.

Criswell said Hurricane Ian was “catastrophic” and officials knew it would have a major impact on Florida residents. A large number of federal and state search and rescue resources are poised and ready to roll out “immediately” after the storm, she said.

“They were outside before dawn on Thursday,” Criswell said. “They are still here today.”

Florida Senator Rick Scott echoed this sentiment while addressing concerns about rebuilding RV parks in Florida and the need for potentially stricter building codes. He said those decisions should be made by each county.

“You don’t want these things to ever happen again,” he said in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “I think every county needs to look at that and say, ‘Does this make sense for their county?

Scott commented on the overall recovery effort and addressed concerns in the property insurance market. He found that insurance fraud hurts some Florida businesses or discourages others from doing business in the state.

“They need to have stricter building codes,” he said. “You have to make sure you learn from every storm, and on top of that you have to make sure there’s no cheating.”

President Joe Biden will visit Florida on Wednesday to meet with officials and assess storm damage, the White House said Saturday.

He will also visit Puerto Rico as it works to recover from Hurricane Fiona, which struck the island as a Category 1 storm in September.

“We will do everything we can to get these communities back on their feet,” Biden said on Twitter.

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