I Lost My House in Fort Lauderdale Flood As Ron DeSantis Campaigned in New Hampshire newsusface

Fort Lauderdale last week was inundated with a historic downpour that caused massive floods and catastrophic property damage, upending the lives of thousands of people. According to experts and meteorologists such as Dan DePodwin of AccuWeather, this level of rain was so historic and rare that it is expected to only occur once every thousand years. Some areas saw over 25 inches of rain.

Cars and trucks floated through the city, and artery roads were turned into rivers that can only be passed by swimming through them. Many residents lost their homes, their vehicles, and their every material possession.

I know all this to be true because my family experienced it all.

As I was heading home last Wednesday night, I got a frightening text. It was from my mom, telling me not to come home. “You can’t come home. Water is everywhere, inside and outside. We’re flooded.”

Though it was pouring, I wasn’t gravely concerned. “It’s just a little water,” I thought to myself. I was wrong.

I would have no home to return to that night, but I would swim through two feet of water across the city just to sleep on the ground downtown. When the waters receded days later, I came back to what had been my home to find all my belongings destroyed and the interior of the house flooded.

Pictures, clothes, books, everything: gone. They’re irreplaceable. Everything I spent my life building was gone in one night. It’s like the memory of your identity has been wiped away. I couldn’t help but feel destroyed inside knowing that everything I had to my name is gone. It takes me back to a time in my childhood when my family was homeless. During that time, it was difficult maintaining all of our belongings.

And as I and countless others were experiencing this tragedy, our governor was in other states, far away, hawking his book and hyping up donors for a likely presidential run. In a time of historic crisis, the leader of our state’s government went AWOL.

It was only a few years ago when another Florida Republican governor, Rick Scott, traveled to areas affected by other natural disasters. He’d put partisanship aside and advocate for emergency aid to support affected communities. “We can rebuild homes. We can rebuild businesses. We cannot rebuild your life,” Scott said.

Our current governor, Ron DeSantis, is no Rick Scott.

While our local mayors, city commissioners, and emergency management personnel were on the ground immediately working to address the crisis, Gov. DeSantis didn’t even have the time to call Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis to offer his support.

This angers me beyond words. I’m not rich. My family is working class, and we have been blue-collar all our lives. It hurts my heart to know that my governor couldn’t make time to visit my city, witness our suffering, and demonstrate leadership. He could have promised swift and aggressive relief, pledged to help us rebuild, and looked into our eyes and let us know some things are more important than politics. But he didn’t.

Some DeSantis supporters have argued that his book tour and speaking engagements were planned in advance, while these floods could not have been predicted. That excuse might work for a day. Once it became clear there was a catastrophe back home, he could (and should) have hopped on the first jet back to Florida.

Instead, he continued his journey across the country to three states, including the early primary state of New Hampshire.

Yes, you read that correctly: while a major city in the governor’s home state was underwater, Ron DeSantis continued to sell books and campaign across the country.

When he did fly back, it was in the middle of the night for a quick stop at the state Capitol to sign the six-week abortion ban. Then he left again, making no stops in Fort Lauderdale or affected areas. (His campaign and office staff did muster up the energy to attack critics on social media and lambaste the media for pointing out his absence.)

This isn’t about partisanship, this is about responsibility. I have levied the same criticism at President Joe Biden for not visiting East Palestine, Ohio, after the catastrophic train derailment that devastated the working-class region.

If Ron DeSantis is more interested in running for president than being the governor we deserve in difficult times, then he must resign immediately. When we lost everything, our governor was absent. If DeSantis can’t demonstrate basic humanity and offer effective leadership during an emergency as governor, how can we expect him to handle larger crises as president? We shouldn’t.

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