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DeSantis points out media ‘were in Tampa’ when questioned by CNN on Lee County's late evacuation order

FOX News logo FOX News 10/3/2022 Lindsay Kornick
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized CNN after being questioned on Lee County not having a mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Ian until the day before the storm hit.

CNN correspondent Nadia Romero spoke with the Republican governor on Sunday in Acadia, near some of the most affected areas in southwest Florida. Since Hurricane Ian made landfall in the state on Wednesday, media reports have criticized Lee County’s decision to not issue a mandatory evacuation order until Tuesday.

Romero took this question to DeSantis directly asking, "Why do you stand behind Lee County’s decision to not have that mandatory evacuation until the day before the storm?"

"Well, where was your industry stationed when the storm hit?" DeSantis replied. "Were you guys in Lee County? No, you were in Tampa."

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DeSantis explained that many reports days prior to the storm did not show Lee County, which includes Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, within the range of Hurricane Ian, leading many citizens to make their own decisions up to 48 hours before landfall. However, he reiterated that more attention was given to Tampa, likely leading people to hesitate on evacuating.

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"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. But they were ready for it the whole time and made that call when [it] was justifiable to do so," DeSantis said. 

Romero continued to remark that neighboring counties to Lee County issued mandatory evacuation orders earlier.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives an update Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, on the damage from Hurricane Ian. Florida Governor's Office © Florida Governor's Office Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives an update Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, on the damage from Hurricane Ian. Florida Governor's Office

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"I think it’s easy to say in hindsight. We had most of our supplies stationed in the Tampa Bay area. As that track moved, we shifted our response further south as well," he responded.

She later asked whether Lee County’s hesitation to issue a mandatory evacuation will be reviewed following recovery. DeSantis remarked that at the end of they day, this was still a decision made on the individual level.

"They informed people and most people did not want to do it," DeSantis said. "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."

FILE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens to a question during a press conference Sept. 7, 2022, in Miami, Fla. AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell © AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell FILE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens to a question during a press conference Sept. 7, 2022, in Miami, Fla. AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Media pundits have attacked DeSantis following the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, suggesting that the conservative governor is a hypocrite for requesting federal assistance.

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