Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went viral Sunday after he easily handled a CNN reporter who attempted to turn the evacuations from Hurricane Ian into a scandal.
Hurricane Ian struck southwest Florida on Wednesday as a near-Category 5 storm. Videos showed mass destruction caused by high winds and storm surges, with Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno estimating that fatalities could be in the hundreds.
In an interview shared to social media Sunday, a CNN reporter asked DeSantis whether he stood behind Lee County’s decision to not issue a mandatory evacuation order until the day the hurricane hit.
“Well, where was your industry stationed when the storm hit? Were you guys in Lee County? No. You were in Tampa,” DeSantis immediately responded, alluding to preliminary forecasts that suggested the storm would hit Tampa, not Lee County. “So they were following the weather track and had to make decisions based on that.”
DeSantis just wrecked a CNN “reporter” pic.twitter.com/t7Hm8xitsV
— Kevin Tober (@KevinTober94) October 3, 2022
DeSantis explained that the cone of the hurricane was not originally headed for Lee County, but that the area did have shelters open and everybody had the opportunity to at least get to one within the area. He claimed that, because so much attention was paid to Tampa, most Lee County residents did not believe they were in serious danger. (RELATED: Terrifying Timelapse Of Hurricane Ian Shows Mass Devastation)
Search and rescue operations are still underway in Florida where the official death toll reached 83 overnight, according to NBC News. Four people were also killed in North Carolina after Hurricane Ian regained strength over the Atlantic on Thursday night into Friday, the outlet noted.