(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for the state of Florida, and ordered federal aid to help recovery efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Ian, which has now been downgraded to a tropical storm.
A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance, including loans to cover uninsured property loss and home repairs, as well as full reimbursement for debris removal and emergency protective measures.
Damage assessments are usually done before granting the declaration.
On Wednesday morning, Biden plans to head to FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., to be briefed on the latest developments on the storm pummeling inland Florida. The visit will give him a chance to meet face-to-face with leaders organizing the hurricane response and get a full scope of what they’re seeing.
Biden’s address can be watched live in the video player above.
Biden has stayed in close contact over the phone with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as well as the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Fort Myers, Sarasota and Cape Coral, telling them he will provide the full force of the federal government.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden spoke with DeSantis Thursday morning, and the president told him FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell is being sent to Florida to check on response efforts.
“The President and Governor committed to continued close coordination,” Jean-Pierre said on Twitter.
As of Thursday morning, around 1,300 federal workers were on the ground in Florida, helping with recovery and response to Ian. These workers are being aided by hundreds of ambulances pre-positioned before the storm made landfall. Federal teams also organized almost 4 million liters of water and meals to be given out to people in need.
Ian is continuing to push through Florida, producing catastrophic floods over parts of the state. At least one storm death has been confirmed, that of a 72-year-old man.
More than 2.5 million households in Florida were still without power Thursday morning.