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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Five
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Five to discuss Hurricane Ian and what comes next. Watch the full interview here.
On the nature of Hurricane Ian:
“[Hurricane Ian] is a slow-moving storm. We’ve got all kinds of risks here. The storm surge has gotten a lot of attention, rightfully so. There is going to be a lot of rain on already drenched land. So you’re going to have flooding that way. We have tornado warnings that extend now out all the way to eastern central Florida. Of course the wind [will be dangerous, too].
“[The hurricane] is still going to be a Category 2, maybe low Category 3 as it works its way through central Florida. There’s already over a million people without power. We’ll get an update in a few minutes. That number will continue to climb as we head into the night hours. It is a very dangerous storm, and it is going to be hours in most places before rescue crews can go out and rescue people. We’ve got a long day and a half ahead.”
On federal aid to Florida:
“I spoke to the director over at FEMA this afternoon, and these guys are professionals. Florida has worked very closely with FEMA for years. Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of storms. The coordination is about as good as I’ve ever seen it.
“There are all kinds of assets on standby and ready to come in and assist the state in whatever those needs are. A lot of those forces, whether it’s task force, search and rescue, the linemen that are ready to come in and restore power, a lot of those groups are already pre-positioned. They just have to wait for conditions to be safe.
“The one thing we really emphasized in our call today was that we are going to need a lot of help with debris removal, because until we get those roads cleared, you can’t even start the work.
“I’m very satisfied. I think the cooperation has been excellent. It always has been. At this moment, it’s better than it’s ever been before a storm.”
On the islands off southwest Florida:
“A lot of those people are starting to get cut off. They’ve lost power, maybe even cell service to some extent. We do have people taking videos from the fifth floor of a tall building. But now what they have to understand, and why we wanted them to evacuate, is we can’t get to them. They may be stuck there for a while.
“I’ve posted images. Somebody took some video that’s been forwarded to us, and you can see how quickly the water came in. It’s going to stand there now for a while. So it’s going to take a while before we have a real assessment. Fortunately, it appears most people heeded those warnings, but some did not. Now it’s going to be some time before we can get there. It is a storm surge event.
“Luckily, it’s not Tampa [being hit], because that would have been truly catastrophic from a dollar standpoint. It’s still going to be pretty bad up there. They’re not out of the woods by any stretch. But it’s in that southwest Florida area, Port Charlotte, places like that, going all the way down to Naples, where you’re already seeing the flooding and the storm surge impact that [the hurricane] has had.
“And I still think there’s hours ahead—you can see in the images—of wind and other dangerous conditions there. It won’t be until midday tomorrow before we really start to get a full assessment of how bad things are. And frankly, there’ll be many first floors and one-story, two-story structures that are going to become uninhabitable.”
On the state of the elderly in Florida:
“My understanding from the pre-event updates is that people have either been evacuated, if they’re in low-lying areas, or if they’re in areas that are going to lose power, they should have backup power that should last them for at least 3 to 4 days, because it will be hard to resupply them. So that’s all very good news.
“Obviously, we know where those centers are. We know the population count. That will be one of the first places that responders will go to to do a well-being check on the residents. But many have moved or have been moved to other areas, and arrangements were made in that regard. We have a better count of that.
“As I said, most of them, if not all of them now, do have backup power. And if they don’t, they’ve moved their people. So far, so good. But we’ll wait for a deeper update on the numbers there. But on that front, I feel pretty good that there’s been massive improvements made from four years ago.”
On the number of Floridians without power:
“That’s 1 million customers. So that’s probably a lot more than 1 million people. That’s a household or a business or what have you. That number is going to continue to climb. Virtually anywhere that this hurricane goes through is going to lose power to a great extent, because these lines just come down, and it takes time to restore it.
“You get to that point where depending on where they are, they hopefully have charged their cell phone, and cell phone service is working, so they can be in touch with people. But what you’ll find now, for a substantial period of time, until that power is restored, is you can’t go to a gas station, because even if there’s gasoline there, they can’t pump it. You can’t charge your phone. You’re going to have to rely on battery power. The roads might be uninhabitable, so you are not going to be able to move.
“It’s a tough time. Even people that didn’t have to evacuate are going to face that inconvenience. Our crews are very good at restoring power, but there are limits to how quickly they can move. The grid is a complicated thing, and you’ve got to have access to it. I think people that are in these areas without power, depending on why they lost power and where they are, you could be talking upwards of a couple of weeks, in some cases, before people are going to be able to have power in that structure again.
“My sense is that as we move forward, we’ll have a better understanding of the people that actually have nowhere to live. And we have to find them emergency housing, which is what FEMA steps in and helps the state with. Others just need the power to come back on. And in the meantime, we hope we can get grocery stores and gas stations working, so people have access to those things. The quicker those things come up, the easier it is for a community to move forward.”