Hurricane Ian and the Politics of Disasters

Hurricane Ian and the Politics of Disasters

The lanes are packed on I-95 headed north as Floridians rush to get out of the way of Hurricane Ian as it slices across the state. Headed south: utility trucks carrying workers and supplies from several states to get the power back on.

“Crews from as far away as New England, Minnesota, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma” are braving the storm to help the Sunshine State, according to Amy Zubaly of the Florida Municipal Electric Association.

Politics stops at the water’s edge, but it also stops when the waters rise. Feuding elected officials put their differences aside in times of emergency, and put people first.

One week before the 2012 presidential election, with polls tied, Democratic President Barack Obama traveled to Republican-led New Jersey, a state that was not competitive in his reelection bid, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Obama’s Republican opponent Mitt Romney largely suspended his campaign and had his campaign team collect supplies for storm victims.

“I’m never prouder of America than when I see how we pull together in a crisis. There’s nothing that we can’t handle when we stand together,” Romney said at the time.

On Tuesday night, President Biden spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2024. DeSantis has been a harsh Biden critic, but during the storm, both men are putting politics aside.

“When people’s lives and their property are at risk like this, we all need to work together regardless of party lines,” DeSantis said.

It’s heartening to see the American spirit of cooperation and unity coming to the fore. It shouldn’t take a natural disaster to make it happen.