Speaking at the White House in remarks carried by the major cable news networks, Biden outlined a series of steps that the administration is taking to respond to the disasters, including urging insurance companies to pay out claims and to ensure cell phone service from alternate carriers. The president said that at least 11 people died in New York and New Jersey due to the storm.
Citing not just the devastation and flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi and Wednesday night in New York and New Jersey, Biden connected the intensity of the storms to climate change. He also referred to the wildfires in the Lake Tahoe region of California and Nevada, having already issued an emergency declaration.
'Horrifying Storm': At Least Nine Dead In New York City After Ida Remnants Flood Streets, Subways And Homes
Biden said that the storms showed the need for Congress to pass his infrastructure proposals to upgrade the power grid and sewer and drainage systems.
“We’re reminded this isn’t about politics,” Biden said. “Hurricane Ida didn’t care if you were a Democrat or a Republican, rural or urban. This destruction is everywhere, and it is a matter of life and death, and we’re all in this together. This is one of the great challenges of our time, but I am confident that we will meet it.”
Biden pledged federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and said he plans to visit the Gulf Coast region Friday to survey the damage.
“I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all the first responders and everyone who has been working through the night and well into the morning to save lives and get power back,” Biden said.
He also said the government is working to restore power in affected areas.
“This is complicated and really dangerous work,” he said. “And we’re working as fast as humanly possible to get it done.”
He also called on insurance companies to “not hide behind the fine print” and accept claims from customers who were under voluntary evacuation orders. That would include payments for relocation and alternate housing costs.
“No one fled this killer storm because they were looking for a vacation or a road trip,” he said.
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