FEMA administrator: Floridians must ‘understand what their risk is’ when rebuilding

With at least 70 dead in Florida after Hurricane Ian, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell pledged to help Floridians recover from the powerful Category 4 storm, but said it was important to consider the risk of rebuilding in the state vulnerable regions.
"As individuals begin to make decisions about what they're doing and what their next steps are, they really need to understand what their risk is," Criswell told CBS' Face the Nation Sunday morning. "We have to make sure we have strict building codes because we have risks everywhere."
Lee County -- where some of the worst-hit areas are located, including Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel and Pine Island -- has reported 35 deaths in the wake of the storm. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said the storm surge reached 10 feet or more in height.
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"This is hard to survive," Republican Sen. Rick Scott told Face the Nation.
"Improve our building codes," says Scott
Scott said people would want to continue living in the state's coastal regions, which are most vulnerable to extreme weather events, including communities devastated by Ian. The solution, he said, is to "continue to improve our building codes."
"These places are places where people want to live," Scott said. “These are beautiful places. So what you really have to do is say, 'I'm going to build, but I'm going to do it for sure.'"
RELATED: Historic storm surge. record flood. Ian's Lesson on Rising Hurricane Risk
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Communities of Color Affected: Vice President Says
On Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris said the federal government should consider justice when distributing resources to hurricane survivors.
"It is our lowest-income communities and our communities of color that are being hit the hardest by these extreme conditions and by problems not of their own making," Harris said. "And so we have to approach this in a way that's about allocating resources based on equity."
In response, Criswell said her office aims to remove barriers to accessing FEMA support for "all Floridians."
"I think some of the things that the vice president talked about are long-term," Criswell said. “I am restoring and rebuilding these communities so they can withstand disaster and have less of an impact. We will support all communities. I made that promise to the governor, I promise you here that all Floridians will be able to get the help that is available to them.
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Scott called Harris' comments "unhelpful."
"FEMA needs to be color blind," he said. "FEMA must support everyone."
Rubio: Reconstruction "will take years"
Republican Senator Marco Rubio on CNN Sunday morning praised the response from FEMA and the Biden administration, adding, "It's not about politics."
"There are no complaints," he said. "These are professionals."
Rubio noted that the rebuilding effort "will take years."
"These communities have basically been wiped out, and now it's going to be about the long term," Rubio said. "They will be rebuilt, but they won't look the same because you can't rebuild old Florida."
Deanne Criswell
Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Rick Scott
Governor of Florida

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