TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As Hurricane Ian ramped up and completed its approach toward and into the state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he had requested approval for a Major Disaster Declaration from President Joe Biden. As of Thursday morning, the president has approved that request.
As a result, federal funding has been made “available to affected individuals in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota,” according to the White House. “Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”
On Wednesday evening, the White House confirmed that Biden had spoken with the mayor of Fort Myers and left messages promising assistance to the mayors of Cape Coral and Sarasota, and the Chair of Charlotte County.
Speaking Wednesday morning, Biden said the federal government was “alert and in action” regarding the hurricane. He said every request for temporary assistance, emergency assistance and long-term assistance made by Florida had been approved, and that FEMA had pre-positioned millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of generators to help with storm response and recovery.
All of Florida’s Congressional Delegation had urged Biden to approve the request, in addition to the request by Gov. DeSantis.
“When the storm passes, the federal government is going to be there to help you recover. We’ll be there to help you clean up and rebuild, to help you get Florida get moving again,” Biden said. “And we’ll be there at every step of the way. That’s my absolute commitment to the people of the state of Florida.”
DeSantis said during multiple updates on Hurricane Ian’s progress that he had spoken to Biden and was in contact with federal officials regarding Ian’s impacts and recovery efforts. During an evening update, the governor announced his request for the Major Disaster Declaration and funding match.
“I made it clear to the governor and the mayors that the federal government is ready to help in every single way possible,” Biden said.
DeSantis had requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for 100% federal cost share on hurricane recovery costs over the next 60 days, Biden has confirmed speaking with, and pledging support to, multiple Florida mayors as Hurricane Ian bore down on the state.
Earlier in the day, the president confirmed he had spoken with DeSantis as well as Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, and Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard.
Biden’s call to Mayor Castor came as she provided a briefing to Tampa residents on Hurricane Ian Tuesday afternoon.
“Already we have deployed significant federal resources to the region to help prepare for the hurricane. We have more than 1,300 federal response workers on the ground in Florida,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jeanne-Pierre said at a news conference Wednesday. “There are 3.7 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water pre-positioned in Alabama, 110,000 gallons of fuel, and 18,000 pounds of propane are pre-staged for immediate deployment.”
The White House said 300 Army Corps personnel were on the ground to provide support power and fuel assessments, and that multiple federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams had been deployed to Florida and Georgia in preparation for the storm’s arrival.
The president visited FEMA’s headquarters for a briefing on Hurricane Ian Thursday morning. Later in the day, Biden is to attend a U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit Thursday, according to the White House press schedule.