YANKEETOWN, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday held a news conference at the water plant in Yankeetown to discuss continuing recovery efforts after Hurricane Idalia.
The Levy County town of some 619 permanent residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, suffered flooding via storm surge, in part prompting a detachment of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to recently deploy there and assist. Just about anywhere in the coastal community is but a several-minute drive to the Gulf of Mexico, if not within walking distance.
DeSantis was joined at the news conference by Alex Kelly, secretary of the state Department of Commerce, and Hannah Herring, Media Relations manager within Publix Super Markets. According to Herring, Publix had helped bring about three tons of non-perishable food items to Yankeetown after Idalia.
“Florida being Publix’s home state, it’s always on our minds to take care of our neighbors in need, and that’s no different in natural disasters. Publix is proud to be here today to support our fellow Floridians,” she said.
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“I think the Maui (sic) is a total catastrophe what happened there, and I don’t think we have all the answers to that. I think we should have all the answers to that. It’s interesting how incurious our corporate media is about what happened in Maui. I mean, I don’t see them interviewing parents who can’t find their kids and for what we know there’s a lot of people missing, so that was a total disaster, really really heartbreaking to hear some of the stories even though they’re not being publicized,” DeSantis said. “I think this situation is much different. I think in the state of Florida, we prepare for the stuff. We were prepared. We responded, and really what the federal government’s role is, is just turning on programs that Congress has enacted over many, many years, and so it’s basically serving as a checkbook to get people reimbursed for debris cleanup, to give people individual assistance, and so in that sense, I think that that has been turned on. I anticipate that that will go smoothly.”
The same individual in the crowd then stated, “Joe Biden and the corporate media have been blaming climate change for the natural disasters and the hurricanes,” asking DeSantis what he thought about that.
Because other more damaging hurricanes in the past had followed similar paths as Idalia — with the governor specifically bringing up the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 — DeSantis suggested anyone connecting climate change policy to hurricanes was “politicizing the weather” and pushing an agenda.
“I think that 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. We know from history, there have been times where it’s been very busy in Florida, late ‘40s early ‘50s, you had a lot of hits of significant hurricanes,” DeSantis said. “I think sometimes people need to take a breath and get a little bit of perspective here, 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’s 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.”
President Joe Biden on Saturday visited Live Oak in Suwannee County, accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, the city’s mayor and Sen. Rick Scott to tour Idalia’s destruction and make remarks promising, of the federal government, “...if there’s anything your state needs, I’m ready to mobilize that support.”
On Friday, hours after Biden said he would be meeting with DeSantis in Florida, the governor’s office issued a statement saying there were no plans for that.
“In these rural communities, and so soon after impact, the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts,” DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern said in the statement.
Deanne Criswell, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told reporters as the president flew from Washington that her team and the governor’s team had “worked collectively” to determine that Biden would visit Live Oak.
Criswell said her teams had “heard no concerns over any impact to the communities that we’re going to visit,” adding DeSantis’ team did not provide any other reasoning for why the governor refused to show up and did not notify her before going public with the “security preparations” statement.
Watch the news conference again in the media player below:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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