Environmental reporter Michael Grunwald linked Hurricane Ian’s damage in Lee County, Florida, to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ past stance on masks and COVID vaccines on Monday.
Grunwald appeared on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” on Monday to discuss the ongoing recovery effort in Florida after the Category 4 hurricane made landfall on Wednesday. Host Joy Reid criticized the state and DeSantis for not declaring Lee County a mandatory evacuation until the day before the storm hit.
“Ron DeSantis has been very angrily defensive, I think that’s a good way to describe it, when people ask him about this delay in the evacuation order. They waited, even though their plan was, if it’s a 10% chance of flooding, then call for a mandatory evacuation. It was like a 40% chance and they didn’t. What do you mean they didn’t do a mandatory evacuation in a place that people who run the state have been told is super vulnerable?” Reid asked.
Although Grunwald acknowledged that Florida continues to be a growth state under DeSantis, he also blamed the governor’s “free state” attitude for likely contributing to the late evacuation and heavy losses in Lee County.
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“Yeah, I mean, it’s really terrible and you don’t want to point too many fingers until you know all the facts. But there’s no doubt there’s a hesitancy to tell people you have to leave , right? Because part of the whole gestalten of DeSantis and Florida Republicans that have run this state for a few decades, this is the free state of Florida. Don’t step on us. You can’t tell us what to do . No one is going to lecture you about wearing masks or taking vaccines or, for that matter, where to build your house or how often to water your lawn,” Grunwald said.
He added, “People should understand who is so confused about why this swing state has become a red state. They should understand that this is a very attractive vision for many people, and eight of the nine fastest growing cities in Florida are cities that voted for Donald Trump. But again, sometimes the cost of not planning for the future and not investing in the future, you see that when the water starts to rise, and then of course [state] The government is turning to the feds to bail us out.”
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The comment echoed Reid’s own jabs at DeSantis for receiving federal relief funding after the massive storm.
Other media pundits have begun attacking DeSantis after reports of Lee County’s late mandatory evacuation became more widely known. However, hurricane reports did not place Lee County under critical threat until Tuesday, leading to the final order. DeSantis pushed back against such criticism on Sunday.
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“But I think part of it was that there was so much attention given to Tampa that a lot of them thought they wouldn’t get the worst of it, but they did, and I think it’s easy to guess them.But they were ready all the time and called when [it] was justified in doing so,” DeSantis said.