Washington- the mayor ofone of the areas hardest hit by last week, he defended the timing of evacuation orders given by Lee County officials as the storm approached the southwestern region of the state, saying they “acted appropriately.”
“Hurricane season warnings start in June. So there’s a degree of personal responsibility here,” Mayor Kevin Anderson said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “I think the county acted appropriately. The thing is, a certain percentage of people won’t heed the warnings anyway.“
Lee County officials issued their first mandatory evacuation orders Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours before Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in southwest Florida. The orders also came after calls from neighboring counties for their residents to leave Monday ahead of the impending storm.
Hurricane Ian devastated the region, and CBS News has found that the number of deaths directly or indirectly attributed to the hurricane is at least 82 in Florida. Of those, 42 were in Lee County and 23 in Charlotte County. As of Saturday morning, US Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials said roughly 4,000 people had been rescued in Florida.
Anderson said that in Fort Myers, crews are working 16 hours a day to restore power and water to homes and businesses in the area.
“Most of our damage was along the river and was caused by flooding. Yesterday I was in one of the hardest hit areas on the east side of town,” Anderson said. “You can see that the newer houses are intact and doing well. But the older houses that were built lower down and didn’t meet current codes, had more damage. So having good strong building codes is key.” for this problem”. .”
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said the agency’s focus is to help those in Florida who have felt the most significant impacts from the hurricane.
“Right now, we have a lot of staff, we have a lot of resources embedded throughout the state of Florida to make sure that we continue with the first priority, which is saving as many lives as possible and getting immediate assistance.” to those who need it most right now,” he told “Face the Nation.”
Criswell, who visited Florida on Friday and Saturday, said he saw the extent of the storm’s devastation, with many homes “completely destroyed.”
“We’re going to make sure we have the right people to help provide temporary support right now, but in the longer term we need to help these communities get back on their feet,” he said.
He said the agency, which administers aid to those affected, will also work with partners like the Small Business Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help families and communities.
“We’re going to work together on what those unmet needs are and what their long-term needs are, and we’re going to make sure that we provide the resources and the support to those communities, temporarily and then long-term to get these communities back on their feet while they’re rebuilding,” Criswell said.
Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida, told “Face the Nation” that when he worked with FEMA as governor, the agency was a “good partner.” But Congress may also have to provide emergency aid to help the state get back on its feet.
“We have made a commitment and we are going to help our families, our businesses, our state and local governments, and as a federal government, we must do our job,” he said. “Now, we have to see how we spend our money. So always try to find out how you pay for things.”
Scott noted that in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and while serving as governor from 2011 to 2019, the state updated its building codes to reduce the risk of hurricane damage. After this, he said, “we’re going to learn that we’re going to continue to improve our building codes.”
Criswell also said that people who lost their homes in the storm need to understand the risks as they begin to make decisions about rebuilding.”
“We need to make sure we have strong building codes because we have hazards all over the place, we’ve seen inland damage in the state, and we need to have building codes that can ensure our properties can withstand the impacts that we have.” seeing from these severe weather events,” she said.