Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis clapped back at a CNN reporter who questioned a Hurricane Ian evacuation decision by officials in Lee County, home to Fort Myers, where the storm made landfall.
CNN correspondent Nadia Romero appeared to blame county officials for waiting too long to issue an evacuation order.
“Why do you stand behind Lee County’s decision to not have that mandatory evacuation until the day before the storm?” she asked DeSantis, who was having none of it.
“Well did you, where was your industry stationed when the storm hit? Were you guys in Lee County? No, you were in Tampa,” he began.
“So they were following the weather track and they had to make decisions based on that. But, you know, 72 hours, they weren’t even in the cone. Forty-eight hours they were on the periphery, so you have to make the decisions best you can. I will say they delivered the message to people,” the governor said.
“They had shelters open. Everybody had adequate opportunity to get to a shelter within the county. But a lot of the residents did not want to do that. I think probably for various reasons,” he said. “Some people don’t want to leave their home, period, they’re island people, whatever.
“But I think part of it was, so much attention was paid to Tampa, a lot of them thought they wouldn’t get the worst of it, but they did, and I think it is easy to second-guess them,” the GOP governor explained. “But they were ready for it the whole time and made that call when there was justifiable to do so.:
“Some of the neighboring counties did have mandatory evacuations, though, before Tuesday,” Romero countered.
“I think it’s easy to say in hindsight,” DeSantis said, adding that the state had prepositioned a lot of response resources in Tampa and then shifted them south to Fort Myers as soon as it became apparent that the storm was shifting track.
“There’s a huge difference between some impacts and being directly hit by the eye,” he said. “They informed people, and most people did not want to do it. That’s just the reality.
“So you’re in a situation, are you going to grab somebody out of their home that doesn’t want to? I don’t think that’s the appropriate use of government,” DeSantis noted.
“I mean, I think that takes it a little too far. I think people have really pulled together. I think that they’ve done a really good job. There’s a lot of work ahead, obviously, but I think the resilience has been great. I think the spirit is great and I do think people pulled together well,” he added.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) defends the timing of Lee County officials' delayed evacuation:
"Where was your industry stationed when the storm hit? Were you guys in Lee County? No you were in Tampa. They were following the weather track … 72 hours, they weren't even in the cone." pic.twitter.com/DYDzmPjswp
— The Recount (@therecount) October 2, 2022