FEMA chief warns Ian could bring 25 inches of rain, lash Florida ‘for a very long time’

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Florida residents Tuesday that Hurricane Ian’s expected slow pace of movement will give it more time to wreak havoc across the state, urging people not to become complacent about the danger it poses even if they live in central or southern Florida.

“My message to those who may be watching at home: Get ready,” Criswell told reporters, speaking from the White House briefing room. “Don’t underestimate the potential that this storm can bring.”

Criswell said the now Category 3 Hurricane is expected to slow as it approaches the state’s west coast, giving it more time to unleash heavy rains and winds upon the state. Some parts of the state, she said, could receive as much as 25 inches of rain.

“We are going to see impacts across the state of Florida,” Criswell said. “Whether it’s inland flooding from the large amount of rain that we’re going to see, to tornadoes and tornado watches that we may see in the southern parts of the state later today, to the storm surge and hurricane-force winds that may impact the community near landfall.”

Florida, she added, “is going to experience the impacts of this storm for a very long time.”

Criswell said FEMA is preparing to help restore power to areas that lose electricity, distribute food and water to those who need it, and help save with search-and-rescue teams anyone who becomes trapped.

She warned that residents who think they can ride out the storm are committing “dangerous” thinking, urging them to listen to government officials as the storm approaches.