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Fort Myers mayor says ‘a certain percentage’ will never heed evacuation warnings

Hurricane Ian
AP/Steve Helber
Holly Nugyn walks out of her flooded neighborhood after Hurricane Ian passed by the area Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Kevin Anderson, the mayor of hard-hit Fort Myers, Fla., responded to growing criticisms of the timeliness of his county’s evacuation order by saying some residents will never heed the warnings.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” moderator Margaret Brennan asked Anderson if Lee County’s evacuation order, which came one day prior to Hurricane Ian making landfall in the area, provided residents with enough lead time.

“Well, Margaret, warnings for hurricane season start in June,” Anderson responded. “And so there’s a degree of personal responsibility here. I think the county acted appropriately. The thing is that a certain percentage of people will not heed the warnings regardless.”

A few dozen deaths have already been reported in the county, which is located along Florida’s Gulf Coast and experienced the brunt of the Category 4 storm as it made landfall, leading to criticisms of the timeline.

Some other areas of the state issued evacuation warnings earlier in the week as Lee County officials weighed their response.

Local and state officials who surveyed the damage in and near Fort Myers provided a dire outlook for the region. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Sunday that Fort Myers Beach, which is located about 15 miles south of Anderson’s city, “no longer exists.”

But Anderson on CBS said electricity and water services were already beginning to return for residents of his city.

“We have crews that are working 16 hours a day,” Anderson said. “They will work seven days a week until we get everything restored.”

He also noted that much of the storm’s damage in his city involved older buildings, saying he hopes rebuilt structures will better withstand future storms under newer, strengthened regulations.

“Having solid, good building codes is the key to this issue,” Anderson said.

Tags Fort Myers Hurricane Ian Margaret Brennan

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