tv President Biden on Hurricane Ida Response CSPAN September 2, 2021 10:57pm-11:17pm EDT
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this is about 20 minutes. president biden: good morning. sorry to keep you waiting. i was getting further updates. i spoke with governor the governors of new york and new jersey, and i plan to speak with the governor of pennsylvania after last night's devastating storm and floods from hurricane ida, the fifth largest hurricane in our history. record rain fell in these states.
new york recorded more rain yesterday, the first day of september, than it usually sees the entire month of september. we saw more than three inches of rain per hour fall in central park. the united states national weather service issued a flood emergency in manhattan, brooklyn, queens, the bronx, staten island, and parts of long island last night. this is the first time such a warning has ever been issued for the city. people were trapped in the subways. but the heroic men and women in the new york fire department rescued all of them. they were trapped. we are seeing the same stories of devastation and heroism across new jersey and pennsylvania as well. for now, 11 people in new york and new jersey died because of the storm, and i want to express my heartfelt thanks to all the first responders and everyone that has been working through the night and well into the morning to save lives.
and get power back. . there is a lot of damage, and i made clear to the governors that my team at the federal emergency management agency is on the ground and ready to provide all the assistance that is needed. in fact, our fema director and administrator was a chief federal response officer after superstorm sandy in 2012. she knows what to do. last night, at the request of california governor newsom, i approved an emergency declaration for california for the fire burning aggressively toward lake tahoe basin and into nevada. it is also one of the few fires that has ever burned from one side of the sierra nevada mountain range to the other. so far, it has burned more than 200,000 acres.
tens of thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes. the fire is threatening close to 35,000 structures, and more than 4400 firefighters in the state and my federal team are working to contain and suppress this raging wildfire. the department of defense is trained and is deploying additional firefighters to support our ongoing firefighting efforts in california. this disaster declaration will help with evacuations, including sheltering and feeding for those who have been displaced. i want you to know, i have seen these firefighters up close. their courage is astounding, and they are some of the bravest people i have ever known, and i have known a lot of them. my heart goes out to them. and my thanks for what they do. now i want to provide an update
on the efforts to help millions of americans down south from hurricane ida. we have been monitoring this hurricane closely and the devastation it has caused. today, six deaths. about a million people are without power in mississippi. i'd -- ida was so powerful that it caused the mississippi river literally to change directions temporarily. the good news is there's a significant multibillion-dollar federal investment in the levee system around metro new orleans. it held. it was strong. it worked, but too many people in too many areas are still unprotected. the storm surge and flooding was devastating. we have seen reports of wind up to 170 miles per hour. it has not yet been confirmed by fema, but 170 miles per hour,
causing unimaginable damage with debris and downed power lines making passage impossible and slowing efforts to save folks on property. people continue to shelter in place. tomorrow, i will be traveling to louisiana with governor john bel edwards as well as the parish presidents. governor edwards encourage me to come and assured me that my visit will not disrupt recovery efforts on the ground. that is what i wanted to be sure. my message to everyone affected his we are all in this together. the nation is here to help. that's the message i have been making clear to the mayors, governors, energy and utility providers in the region who my administration has been working closely with over the past few days. working with governors in the area even before ida made
landfall -- i issued emergency declarations for the louisiana and mississippi to help us respond quickly. fema pre-positioned more than 4.3 million meals and more than 3 million liters of water and other critical resources in the region for it hit. we deployed more than 250 generators, and we are working on getting more, especially to hospitals that desperately need them. the department of health and human services deployed a 250-bed federal medical shelter in new orleans. since the hurricane hit, more than 6000 members of the national guard have inactivated in louisiana, mississippi, alabama, and texas and other states to support search-and-rescue recovery efforts. for those who have lost their homes, states have been working
with the american red cross to open almost 50 shelters across the gulf coast. we know there is much to be done in this response on our part. we need to get power restored. we need to get more food, fuel, and water deployed. i get hourly updates on the progress from fema well into the night, and we will be working around the clock until the critical needs of the region are fully met, and we will meet them. even as we tackle the core elements of the disaster response, we are also deploying new tools to help speed this recovery. things that have not been used very much in prior hurricane responses, working with private companies that own and operate lifeline infrastructure like electricity and communication. we have used the latest technology to accelerate restoration of power and cell phone service. it is beginning to get back up, but there is a long way to go. for example, minimize the amount
of time it will take to get power back to everyone. i directed the federal aviation commission to authorize the use of surveillance drones to assist -- to assess ida's damage to infrastructure, while ensuring those flights do not disrupt aerial search-and-rescue missions. likewise, i have asked the pentagon, the department of energy to immediately make available any satellite imagery they can help in assessing the damage. drones and satellites can make the work faster by getting those in place for most in need. they can help put transmission lines back up and running in all the parishes. hard-working people do the complicated and dangerous work. there are more than 25,000
linemen and clearance crews from 32 states and the district of columbia racing to restore power. in alabama, two have died on the job. this is complicated and dangerous work. we are moving as fast as humanly possible to get it done. it is important, though, that the region hit by ida is the key center of our nation's oil production and refining infrastructure. that is why we are not waiting to assess the full impact the storm will have on oil production and refineries. we are moving quickly to increase the availability of gas and easing the pressure on gas prices around the country. i have directed the secretary of energy, jennifer granholm, to use all of the tools at her disposal, including using the strategic petroleum reserve to keep gas flowing to the pumps in order to get critical supplies to the region to beat the
pandemic. i directed the department of transportation to provide flexibility on how many hours they truck driver can provide. there's a limitation to the number of hours you can be on the road. the transportation department is broadening that emergency declaration for the transportation of gasoline and other types of fuel as well in addition to medical supplies and food. the environmental protection agency has approved emergency waivers for louisiana and mississippi that will expand the supply of gasoline that can be sold in those states at such a critical time. these actions should help reduce the impact of gas shortages and price increases as a result of the hurricane. we also know a lot of people lost cell phone service because their particular carrier's tower
went down or got damage. a few days ago, i asked the federal communications commission and my white house team to work with cell phone companies to allow customers to use roaming services. that means that folks in the area should be able to get a signal, no matter what carrier. it their carrier is down, they can roam and use another carrier they are not part of, not signed up with. of sons and daughters and moms and dads and loved ones trying to reach each other -- think of sons and daughters and moms and dads and loved ones trying to reach each other. think of the millions of people reaching out for help. this is important, and it is critical. a lot of private companies and public entities are doing their part. today, i'm calling on insurance companies not to evade their responsibility to keep the priorities they made to our
customers on the promises they made and help some folks who are hurting. here's the deal -- fema is providing critical need assistance, for example, to help with the hotel bill you racked up because you could not stay in your home during the hurricane. the department of housing and urban affairs is also offering assistance to families in impacted areas, but right now, we are hearing reports that some insurance companies may deny coverage for additional living assistance expenses unless the homeowner was under a mandatory evacuation order. so people pay their insurance premiums. they are supposed to get payments from their insurance companies for relocation. but insurance companies, in the face of the strongest storm since 18 -- 1850 say, "no, no,
we are not going to pay what we owe you," because it states like louisiana and mississippi issued a voluntary evacuation order at first and may not have had enough time to make it mandatory when the storm moved in so fast. other parishes suggested residents could try to protect themselves by sheltering in place. we can all understand why folks felt safest leaving their homes and going elsewhere. no one fled this killer storm because they were looking for a vacation or a road trip. they left their homes because they felt it was flea or risk death. nothing voluntary about that. i'm calling on private insurance companies right now at this critical moment -- don't hide behind the fine print and technicalities.
do your job. keep your commitments in your communities that you ensure. do the right thing. pay your policyholders what you owe them to cover the cost of temporary housing in the midst of natural disasters. help those in need. that's what all of us need to do. that is what we are trying to do. fema has pushed out a $77 million to the people of louisiana so far. individuals. my message to people of the gulf coast who i'm going to visit tomorrow -- we are here for you, and we are making sure the response and recovery is equitable so those it hardest to get the resources they need and are not left behind. if you are a homeowner, renter, parent, or small business owner -- no matter who are, if you live in the affected areas, please visit disasterassistance.gov to find
help now. that's disasterassistance.gov. or call 1-800-621-fema. f-e-m-a. that's 1-800-621-362. there's help -- 1-800-621-30 362. there's help you can qualify for right away. the map appointed to lead this effort knows the area and knows how to get things done. the people of louisiana and mississippi are resilient and
resourceful. we will stand with you for as long as it takes to recover and allow you to rebuild. the past few days of hurricane ida and the wildfires in the west and unprecedented flash floods in new york and new jersey is yet another reminder of these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here. we need to be prepared. we need to act. when congress returns this month, i'm going to press for action on my bill back better plan. it will make historic investments in electrical infrastructure, monetizing -- modernizing our roads and sewer and drain its systems, electric grids and transmission lines, and make them more resilient to these super storms and wildfires.
these are going to happen with increasing frequency and ferocity. i want to remind you this is not about politics. hurricane ida did not care if you were a democrat or republican, rural or urban. this destruction is everywhere. it is a matter of life and death, and we are all in this together. this is one of the great challenges of our time, but i'm confident he will meet it. -- confident we will meet it. we are the united states of america, and there is nothing beyond our capacity when we work together. for all those still in harm's way for all those struggling to deal with the aftermath of these storms and fires, i say god bless you. keep the faith. everyone is working day and night to look out for their fellow americans is what this is all about and we are going to get this done. thank you.
>> on friday, foreign correspondents discussed the impact of the u.s. withdraw from afghanistan and the taliban takeover at the national press love, -- press club, live at 11:00 a.m. eastern. >> louisiana governor john bel edwards talked about the state and federal response to hurricane ida. the current death toll, and the resources available, as well as his upcoming visit with president biden.
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