Science

Fort Myers mayor says county acted

Washington — the mayor of Fort Myers, Floridaone of those areas hit hardest Hurricane Ian Last week, Lee County officials defended the timing of evacuation orders as the storm neared the state’s southwestern region, saying they “acted appropriately.”

“Hurricane weather warnings begin in June. And 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 will not heed the warnings.,

Less than 24 hours before Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida as a Category 4, Lee County officials issued their first mandatory evacuation order Tuesday morning. The orders also came after calls from neighboring counties to leave their residents on Monday before the impending storm.

Hurricane Ian devastated the area, and CBS News found the number of deaths directly or indirectly attributable to the storm in Florida to be at least 73. Of those, 35 were in Lee County and 23 in Charlotte County. As of Saturday morning, officials from the US Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said about 4,000 people had been rescued in Florida.

Anderson said that in Fort Myers, crews are working 16 hours a day to restore electricity and water to homes and businesses in the area.

“Most of our damage was done along the river, and it was caused by flooding. I was in one of the most affected areas yesterday in the eastern part of the city,” Anderson said. “You can see that the newer homes are intact, and they’re fine. But older homes that were built less, and not up to current code, suffered more. So solid good building codes are the key to this issue.”

FEMA Administrator Dean Criswell said the agency’s focus is on helping those in Florida who have felt the most significant effects of the hurricane.

“Right now, we have a lot of employees, we have a lot of resources that are embedded in Florida across the state, making sure we continue to make the first priority that is saving as many lives as possible and immediate assistance. For those who need it the most right now,” she told “Face the Nation.”

Criswell, who visited Florida on Friday and Saturday, said he saw the approach of devastation from the storm, with many homes “completely destroyed.”

“We’re going to make sure we’re getting the right people to help provide temporary support right now, but there is a long-term need to help these communities recover,” she said.

She said the agency, which provides relief to those affected, is also going to work with partners such as the Small Business Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist families and communities.

“We’re going to work together to figure out what those unmet needs are and what their long-term needs are, and make sure we’re providing those communities with the resources and support, temporary and then long-term, to get these communities back into their own hands. on the legs while they are rebuilding,” Criswell said.

Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida, told “Face the Nation” that when he served as governor with FEMA, the agency was a “good partner.” But Congress may also have to provide emergency relief to help the state recover.

“We’ve made commitments, and we’re going to help our families, our businesses, our state and local governments, and as the federal government, we need to do our bit,” he said. “Now, we have to look at how we spend our money. So always try to figure out how you pay for things.”

Scott noted that in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and when he served as governor from 2011 to 2019, the state updated its building codes to reduce the risk of damage from hurricanes. He then said, “We’re going to know we’re going to have you, we’ve got to keep improving our building codes.”

Criswell also said that people who have 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 risks everywhere, we’ve seen damage inland in the state, and we need building codes that can make sure our properties can withstand those impacts.” What we’re seeing from these severe weather events,” she said.

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