After briefing city residents on potential threats from Hurricane Ian, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez flew to New York City for a fundraiser to support his potential 2024 run for president.
As first reported by the New York Post, Suarez was in New York on Wednesday for a $2,500-a-plate luncheon supporting his political committee, Agenda for America, as the 44-year-old Republican positions himself as a presidential hopeful. On Wednesday morning, Miami was about 20 hours into a tropical storm warning as the hurricane approached Florida’s southwest coast.
While he’s the senior elected official in the city, as mayor Suarez has no administrative power. City Manager Arthur Noriega serves as chief executive of the Miami government, overseeing both the police and fire departments.
A Suarez spokesperson said the risk from Ian for Miami was low enough that the mayor felt comfortable sticking with his travel plans.
“As the storm’s track shifted, it became evident the City of Miami would be spared from the worst effects of Hurricane Ian,” said Soledad Cedro, communications director for Suarez. “Like many city residents, the Mayor proceeded with scheduled events and commitments.”
Cedro said Suarez was in New York for events Wednesday and Thursday, but she did not respond to a question about when Suarez flew out of Miami and when he returned.
While Ian closed schools and shuttered transit in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday, the storm didn’t bring the severe flooding brought by past major storms.
Suarez serves as the public face of Miami government, a role he played the day before his New York event. Suarez led a Tuesday press conference in the city’s emergency center to talk about Miami’s preparation for potential street flooding and plans to send Miami first-responders to the west coast to help areas hit hard by Ian.
“We could receive anywhere from six inches of rain, up to 10 inches of rain in certain areas,” Suarez said inside the city’s emergency operations center. “As of this morning, thankfully, there were no incidents of flooding in the city.”
As Ian brought several inches of rain to Miami on Wednesday, Suarez’s city Twitter feed offered updates of spot flooding and the city’s response. “Shorecrest had its temporary pump break and now has Emergency Management on site to bring a new temporary pump to drain the flooding,” read a 2:49 p.m. post.
That was about two hours after the scheduled start of the fundraiser at Casa Cipriani, a private club in Lower Manhattan.
On Friday, Suarez flew to Southwest Florida to visit areas hit by Ian. In the afternoon, Suarez posted a video on his personal Instagram account of him flying above the area in a helicopter, saying he planned to meet with a city rescue team deployed to the Fort Myers area as part of Florida’s mobilization of first responders.
Cedro said the helicopter trip was funded by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, an association of city leaders where Suarez serves as president. Suarez said in the video he had been in touch with mayors in the area and would report on how people could help the region.
“I know there have been a lot of calls from people wanting to be helpful,” Suarez said in the video. “As I get more information on how people can be helpful, I will update you.”