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

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An aerial picture taken on September 30, 2022 shows the only access to the Matlacha neighborhood destroyed in the aftermath of 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 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 underwater, FEMA director Deanne Criswell told ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.

She said the road to recovery is going to be long.

“We’re still actively in the search and rescue phase, trying to make sure that we are accounting for everybody that was in the storm’s path, and that we go through every home to make sure that we don’t leave anybody behind,” she said.

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

“They were out before daybreak on Thursday,” Criswell said. “They are still there today.”

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida echoed that sentiment while addressing concerns over rebuilding mobile home parks in Florida and the need for potentially stricter building codes. He said those decisions should be decided by each county.

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

Commenting on overall recovery efforts, Scott addressed concerns in the property insurance market, noting that insurance fraud is hurting some companies in Florida or discouraging others from conducting business in the state.

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

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

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

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

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