A day after several surrounding counties issued their orders, and less than 24 hours before Hurricane Ian made landfall in the state, Ron DeSantis claimed Lee County officials had done lawfully when they issued the first mandatory evacuations on Tuesday.
About where the hurricane was predicted to land, the governor told reporters in Fort Myers on Saturday, “They were following the data, and you remember folks were looking originally at the panhandle on Sunday.” “When Monday arrived, folks speculated that it might have been north of Tampa Bay. People were predicting that this would be the worst-case scenario for the state and a direct impact on Tampa Bay as we went to bed Monday night.
“They (Lee County authorities) ordered for the evacuation, opened their shelters, and responded extremely fast to the data as that track started the shift south and the computer models the following morning. But at the end of the day, Fort Myers and Naples weren’t even in the cone on Sunday at the time of the 11 a.m. advisory, according to my memory.
They attentively followed it because that is simply the reality, he continued. Forecasters use the cone of uncertainty to show where the storm is most likely to form its centre. Impacts from storms can and frequently do reach outside the cone.
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At least 66 deaths in Florida have been reported, with Lee County accounting for the majority. 35 deaths were reported by the local sheriff. According to officials, there have also been 12 deaths in Charlotte County, 8 in Collier County, 5 in Volusia County, 3 in Sarasota County, 1 in Polk County, 1 in Lake County, and 1 in Manatee County.
The handling of the evacuation orders by Lee County officials has drawn criticism, which is why DeSantis made his remarks on Saturday. His words were an echo of what he had previously said at a news conference in Lee County when he had justified his administration’s conduct and claimed that communities had “sprung into action” as forecasts had moved the storm south.
Ian made landfall on Wednesday in Cayo Costa in Lee County, a place that was inside the cone 72 hours before the storm’s landfall and in all of the other dozens of cones issued for the storm, despite the cone not including Fort Myers or Naples three days before the storm’s impact.
According to a tweet from the county administration, Lee County ordered a mandatory evacuation on Tuesday at 5:20 p.m. ET for Zones A and B, which contain the hardest-hit coastal communities. Pinellas County issued an evacuation order for Zone A via its Facebook page on Monday at 6 p.m. ET and added in the same statement that Zones B and C will follow suit at 7 a.m. ET on Tuesday.
In a similar move, Manatee County published a Facebook post on Monday afternoon announcing an evacuation for Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET. On Monday at 2 p.m. ET, Hillsborough County issued a mandatory evacuation order for the county’s Zone A via the county’s Facebook page.
Similar evacuation orders for parts of Sarasota and Charlotte counties were released on Monday via news conferences and press releases, respectively. Liston Bochette, a member of the Fort Myers city council, was questioned on Saturday by CNN’s Jim Acosta over the number of times homeowners were given to evacuate. Lee County includes Fort Myers.
Bochette informed Acosta, “Obviously, around one in ten times when they warn you, it happens. This is the one time, I guess. Additionally, fewer people fled the area than necessary. And I believe that because this is a small paradise region of the world, we have become complacent and believe that nothing will happen to us.