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ICYMI: Rubio Joins Hannity
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Hannity to discuss the latest on Hurricane Ian and what comes next. Watch the full interview here.
On the condition of Southwest Florida following Hurricane Ian’s landfall:
“We know that the storm surge was very significant – historic, really. I think we’re all going to be shocked by some of the images that are going to emerge. One of the water gauges that measures up in Fort Myers was still pretty high as of an hour ago and rapidly rising. There’s still some threat there, and even as we’re going to be dealing with that, we recognize that this storm is now moving inland and now we move to a second kind of risk, and that is the flash flood.
“The National Weather Service has issued its highest alert possible. They’re expecting upwards in some isolated areas of up to 12 inches of rain, but certainly 4 to 8 inches. They are now talking about a real flash flood threat in many parts of central Florida as the storm moves in the overnight hours. The worry there is that it’s overnight. Some people are going to be asleep, might be in the way of these flash flood advisories that are coming their way.
“A lot of rain is going to be coming in through central Florida and all the way up through northeast Florida. Tomorrow is going to be another terrible day in Florida for people in eastern-central Florida, all the way up to the northeast part of the coast. Even as we begin to see the images emerge tomorrow from southwest Florida and the damage that was done there, these flash floods over the next few hours and into the early hours of tomorrow are nothing to play with. They’re very significant. The threat is very high, probably the highest it’s ever been, certainly that I can recall in such a wide swath area.”
On assessing the utility restoration in Florida:
“The early assessment the utility companies are making is that in some of [the affected] areas, the grid is not going to be repaired. It may have to be completely rebuilt, which is going to extend the time frame [for us to quickly address the damages]. That is a very serious threat.
“Florida, unfortunately, because we have gone through many of these storms, has good systems in place. The governor has done a great job. FEMA has been very cooperative. They are going to come in and backfill whatever the state needs. There is a lot of work to be done. We don’t even know the full extent of it, it’s going to be different in different places but we do know you’ve got to clear those roads, you’ve got to get the crews in there, [and] you’ve got to save lives.
“In Lee County, the 911 system is completely down, being rerouted to Collier County. They are getting calls that at this moment we still can’t respond to because it is just not safe to get there. Almost the entire county is out of power. We have multiple counties where there is virtually no power whatsoever.
“We don’t know some of the harrowing things that are going on right now, but these crews are ready to go and we thank them. They’re from all over the country. They are ready to go, but it needs to be safe before they can move in– and that is going to take at least another 24 to 36 hours.”
On where to locate resources and information for Floridians in need:
“[For those who stayed behind and need help, go to] floridadisaster.org. If you go on that website, you are going to be able to go to a site where you can register, whether you’re one of those people who stayed behind or know someone who did, so that it gives response workers a sense to check on and get information about the households. I think most people did leave … that part of our state is somewhat seasonal, so it doesn’t have its full population, but there are still a lot of people there. Hopefully they left, it sounds like most of them left but these videos are coming from some people who stayed behind.
“Right now, if you are in Lee County or Collier County, especially Lee County, you are trapped by water, there is no way to get to you. It’s one of the reasons why they do these evacuation orders. You just have to hold on and do the best you can because hopefully by some point tomorrow, those rescue crews are going to be able to come out and begin to respond. Once that happens, you are going to see something unprecedented, they’re going to come by air, by boat. We’ve got volunteer groups like the Cajun Navy that’s ready to go. They’re great people [and] they’re ready to move.”
On federal assistance to Florida:
“FEMA is ready to provide as a backstop or to add on because, obviously, the state has its own supplies, they’re the primary responder, but at some point, those are exhausted. There may be things we need, like the Army Corps is ready to go to help with some of the power restoration. I talked to FEMA’s director earlier this afternoon about removing debris from the roads so we can get people in. We will need some heavy equipment.
“The most important thing now, if he hasn’t done so already, and I expect he will, is that the president will approve the major disaster declaration. I led the entire Florida delegation in sending a letter in support of Governor DeSantis’s request because that will allow for individual assistance. Now, the individual who, for example, no longer has no home to go back to, will now be able to apply to FEMA, and hopefully quickly get the assistance they need to find a place to live, find a way to feed themselves while we work through this. The same will be true for small businesses through the SBA.
“It is really tough to tell you until we’ve seen the full assessment and expect a tremendous amount of water damage and storm surge in southwest Florida [and] a tremendous amount of flood damage in central Florida, including agricultural areas and rural areas that there might be some people that we do not even know are there yet because they didn’t sign up beforehand.
A lot of people are ready to help. The conditions have to be right, when that happens, you will see the help come.”