While members of the media have taken to mocking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “go-go” boots and the side-eyes he and President Biden supposedly gave each other at a recent press conference on Hurricane Ian, the Republican governor said he’s been mobilizing a historic effort to restore power and stability to the areas most impacted by the Category 4 hurricane that claimed at least 137 lives.
Days before Hurricane Ian made landfall, DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the state while bringing in more than 42,000 linemen and over 1.6 million gallons of fuel to prepare for recovery efforts, DeSantis’ office told Fox News Digital.
The Category 4 hurricane hit Cayo Costa Island at peak intensity on Sept. 28, tying with seven other storms as the fifth-strongest hurricane to strike the U.S. and killing at least 137 people.
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The media has kept a close eye on DeSantis’ response to the disaster as he heads into a re-election race in November and is often floated as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
The governor faced brief criticism for the destruction in hard-hit Lee County after Republican officials there declined to evacuate residents early. Photos of DeSantis’ rubber rain boots he wore while surveying the damage and of his body language at a press conference with Biden also became memes poking fun at the Republican.
“You’re not allowed to pass a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill then show up in public dressed like Nancy Sinatra,” late-night Jimmy Kimmel joked.
Meanwhile, DeSantis’ press secretary, Bryan Griffin, told Fox News Digital that the governor has directed all agencies involved in the emergency response to “break down the bureaucracy and cut through the red tape” to bring relief to Floridians as soon as possible, and that Points of Distribution to get emergency provisions to survivors were deployed within 18 hours, when they typically take 96 hours.
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Now, 97.79% of power outages have been restored, Griffin said Sunday.
Engineers were also brought in to assess Lee County’s water infrastructure and have since restored water to all Lee County Utilities customers, and the Florida Department of Transportation was able to restore access to Pine Island by building a temporary bridge in less than three days, Griffin said.
“Gov. DeSantis was able to execute a historically efficient response to Hurricane Ian because of his directives for a massive preemptive staging effort, enhanced state agency cooperation, and his insistence in being on the ground in the most affected areas after the storm,” Griffin said.
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“He heard concerns directly from those impacted by Ian and was able to innovate responses to the greatest immediate needs, such as the Pine Island access bridge and Starlink units,” he added.
A press release Saturday by the governor’s office said the Florida Disaster Fund, which was activated on Sept. 29, has raised nearly $40 million.
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