OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis undertook an incredible gesture of goodwill on Sunday to show his appreciation for some of the first responders who are putting the state back together in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
The GOP governor, who is up for reelection in November, went to a Waffle House restaurant in Punta Gorda, where he manned the griddle to fix breakfast for emergency workers.
“@WaffleHouse is one of the first restaurants in Charlotte County to reopen and provide hot meals as we work together to serve Floridians after #HurricaneIan,” DeSantis noted on Twitter. “Thank you for providing meals to the linemen working to restore power.”
Thank you for providing meals to the linemen working to restore power. pic.twitter.com/w0AkexcUeU
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 1, 2022
A video clip of DeSantis preparing food was posted to the platform by his campaign.
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 #FloridaStrong (@DeSantisWarRoom) October 1, 2022
“DeSantis issued updates on his administration’s hurricane recovery efforts after surveying numerous devastated areas and meeting with officials in the impacted communities,” The Daily Wire reported. “The governor’s office said that there are 42,000 lineman responding to the more than 1.2 million power outages caused by the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Ian. The lineman have already restored power to more than 1.4 million Floridians.”
Help from other states is pouring into Florida as well.
“The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has received a major boost in support from the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), gaining 1,800 personnel from more than two dozen states that have arrived in the state to assist in recovery efforts,” the outlet noted.
In a statement, DeSantis’ office said: “FDEM is working with feeding partners to open kitchens for impacted and displaced residents. More than 63,000 hot meals were served on-scene at food banks in Alachua, Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole and Union counties yesterday, Friday, September 30. More than 100,000 hot meals will be served today, October 1.”
It added: “FDEM has six active fuel depots and is staging an additional four fuel depots today throughout Central and Southwest Florida to ensure first responders have the fuel they need to conduct search and rescue operations. More than 1.2 million gallons of fuels have been mobilized.”
Also, first lady Casey DeSantis has been busy raising money and organizing business responses to the hurricane in order to speed up relief to residents.
“Raising more than $20 million in 48 hours for The Florida Disaster Fund is a testament to the generosity and compassion from people across Florida and the country,” she said, according to a statement posted on the FDEM website. “This funding is already being utilized by organizations in the field to help people who have been impacted by this storm. We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support for Florida.”
Following the storm, DeSantis warned residents and others with bad intentions that looting would not be tolerated.
“They boarded up all the businesses, and there are people that wrote on their plywood, ‘you loot, we shoot,’” the governor said during a press conference on Friday. “At the end of the day, we are not going to allow lawlessness to take advantage of this situation. We are a law-and-order state, and this is a law-and-order community, so do not think that you’re going to go take advantage of people who’ve suffered misfortune.”
“The other thing that we’re concerned about, particularly in those areas that were really hard hit, is you know, we wanna make sure we’re maintaining law and order,” he said.
“Don’t even think about looting. Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation. And so local law enforcement is involved in monitoring that,” the governor added.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said that he discussed possible looting with Attorney General Ashley Moody.
“We are not going to tolerate — and I mean zero tolerance — when we say anyone that thinks they’re going to thrive on the residents of this county or state when we just took a horrific hit, I can guarantee you that is not going to happen,” he said.
“Florida will not tolerate looters taking advantage of (Hurricane Ian) to prey on vulnerable Floridians. They will be arrested and I have asked state attorneys to seek the longest pretrial detention possible to keep them locked up so they cannot commit new crimes,” she said.