On Sunday, while standing in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, GOP presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hammered climate change alarmists over their reaction to the storm.
DeSantis cited an 1896 storm that reportedly had 125 mph winds and Florida’s Labor Day hurricane in 1935, saying during a Sunday press conference that those storms resulted in massive destruction and deaths.
“So, I think the notion that somehow hurricanes are something new, that’s just false. And we’ve got to stop politicizing the weather and stop politicizing natural disasters,” DeSantis said. “We know from history there’s been times when it’s very busy in Florida, late ‘40s, early ‘50s, you had a lot of hits of significant hurricanes.
“So, I think sometimes people need to take a breath and get a little bit of perspective here,” he said. “But the notion that somehow if we just adopt, you know, very left-wing policies at the federal level that somehow we will not have hurricanes, that is a lie. And that is people trying to take what happened with different types of storms and use that as a pretext to advance their agenda on the backs of people that are suffering. And that’s wrong, and we’re not going to do that in the state of Florida.”
DeSantis chose not to meet with President Joe Biden when the president visited Florida following the hurricane. Idalia made landfall early on Wednesday morning along Florida’s Big Bend region as a Category 3 storm, causing widespread flooding and damage before moving north to Georgia and the Carolinas. Due to the Big Bend region’s low population, few lives were lost.
Earlier in the same press conference in Yankeetown, Florida, a reporter asked DeSantis if he trusted the federal government to help given what happened in Hawaii and East Palestine, Ohio.
Biden has faced significant criticism for his response to both of the disasters. East Palestine has still not been granted major disaster status and therefore much federal aid has been withheld, and in Lahaina, Maui, where a massive fire destroyed hundreds of homes, 385 people are still missing and residents have been restricted from returning to what remains of their homes.
“I think that the state of Florida, we prepare for this stuff. We were prepared. We responded,” he said. “And really what the federal government’s role is just turning on programs Congress has enacted over many, many years. So, it’s basically serving as a checkbook to get people reimbursed for debris clean up, to give people individual assistance. And so, in that sense, I think that has been turned on, I anticipate that that will go smoothly, but most of the nuts and bolts is done by our local communities and by the state of Florida. And that’s really how it should be. Disaster response is really bottom up.”
DeSantis said most people heeded local warnings of dangerous storm surge and chose to evacuate, noting there’s been no coastal fatalities reported. Only one traffic fatality in Alachua County, Florida, was reported as being related to the storm.
Categorizing local and state officials working together as the “bread and butter” of hurricane response, DeSantis said “the checkbook from the feds is great, and whatever resources are available as the governor, I’m going to pull those levers to be able to help Floridians, but we’re certainly not relying on the federal government to do the day-to-day heavy lifting.”
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