Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Sunday said he wanted more information about the devastation wrought in Lee County in Florida by Hurricane Ian, which has raised questions about evacuation timing in the hard-hit county.
Scott, a former Florida governor, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that officials were “going to look and find out” why Lee County issued an evacuation order just 24 hours before the storm hit, among other concerns about the emergency response there.
“I think it’s something we have to look at to see why did it happen,” the senator said. “The way you have to look at it is, every loss of life, you have to say to yourself, what could you do differently next time so it never happens again?”
Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday in the Fort Myers area of Florida as a Category 4 storm, causing extensive damage across the region before downgrading in intensity and moving toward North Carolina and South Carolina over the weekend.
More than half of all storm-related deaths in Florida are in Lee County, which reported 35 fatalities on Saturday, according to Nexstar affiliate WFLA. The state is reporting a total of about 48 storm-related deaths but the toll is expected to rise.
Lee County, which includes Fort Myers and Cape Coral, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order for the areas expected to be hardest hit until Tuesday morning, a day before the storm made landfall and a day after other counties had issued evacuation orders, the New York Times reported.
County officials told the newspaper they had been closely watching the forecast and whether Ian would land further north before they made a final decision.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) crews and state emergency teams are continuing to respond to the storm and its aftermath, with President Biden warning the hurricane is expected to be among the worst to ever hit the U.S.
Scott on Sunday said Ian was “really bad” and there is a “lot of places in need,” especially in Lee County and Fort Myers.
“Once we get through this and we do an assessment, [we need to see] what did we learn?” the senator said. “I’m scared to death people haven’t been rescued yet, because … as of this morning, there’s still people to go.”