Predictably, with the devastation of Hurricane Ian well chronicled, the media was quick to start looking for a way to use the massive storm to tarnish Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Unfortunately, for agenda-driven reporters like CNN national correspondent Nadia Romero, the popular Republican governor is not one to suffer fools gladly.
The New York Times had already set the marker, reporting that Lee County, which includes the Fort Myers area that took the brunt of the destructive storm surge, “did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day after several neighboring counties had ordered their most vulnerable residents to flee.”
Romero seized on the opportunity to question DeSantis about that decision Sunday while the governor was on the ground actively engaged in the recovery process.
“Why do you stand behind Lee County’s decision to not have that mandatory evacuation until the day before the storm?” the CNN reporter asked.
“Well did you — where was your industry stationed when the storm hit?” DeSantis replied. “Were you guys in Lee County? No, you were in Tampa.”
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
He proceeded to school Romero on WHY the media was stationed in Tampa.
“So they were following the weather track and they had to make decisions based on that,” he continued. “But, you know, 72 hours, they weren’t even in the cone — 48 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. 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. 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,” DeSantis added. “But they were ready for it the whole time and made that call when there was justifiable to do so.”
Not willing to give up the narrative, Romero pointed out that some of the neighboring counties issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of Lee County.
“I think it’s easy to say in hindsight,” DeSantis replied, after noting that some areas revised their evacuation advisories Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Pressing, Romero suggested that Lee County had not followed their own emergency protocols, saying “they should have had that mandatory evacuation order sooner,” asking if he would be reviewing that process.
“They informed people and most people did not want to do it,” DeSantis said, of the evacuation order that was issued. “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. I mean, I think that takes it a little too far.”
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