DeSantis refuses to call out Trump’s silence on Hurricane Idalia

Ron DeSantis has refused to call out Donald Trump’s silence over Hurricane Idalia – as the former president stays mum despite being a resident of the Sunshine State.

The Florida governor held an early morning press conference in Tallahassee on Wednesday where he warned residents about the encroaching hurricane, bringing with it “life-threatening” storm surges to the Big Bend region.

When asked in the briefing about the fact that Mr Trump had not addressed the dangerous storm heading to the state he calls home, Mr DeSantis quickly dismissed the question.

“Not my concern. My concern is protecting the people of Florida, being ready to go,” he said.

He continued to instead talk about the preparedness of the state for the hurricane: “In Florida, you just have to do this.”

Mr DeSantis has repeatedly refused to be drawn into criticising Mr Trump as the two former allies go head to head to become the next Republican presidential candidate.

While the former president regularly attacks the Florida governor in scathing Truth Social posts, Mr DeSantis remains cautious about retaliating – appearing concerned that he could alienate MAGA Republicans.

In Wednesday’s briefing, Mr DeSantis warned Floridians that Hurricane Idalia would make landfall by around 8am ET on Wednesday morning in Taylor County and the Big Bend region after it strengthened into a Category 4 storm in the early hours of the morning.

“The storm surge up to 16 feet in some areas of the Big Bend region – this storm is life-threatening,” said Mr DeSantis.

“So do not go outside in the storm... if it’s calm where you are it may be because you are in the eye of the storm.”

He warned: “Don’t mess with this storm. Don’t do anything that will put yourself in jeopardy.”

Reporters wade through flood waters as it inundates the downtown area after Hurricane Idalia passed offshore on August 30, 2023 in Tarpon Springs (Getty Images)
Reporters wade through flood waters as it inundates the downtown area after Hurricane Idalia passed offshore on August 30, 2023 in Tarpon Springs (Getty Images)

At around 7.45am ET, Hurricane Idalia made landfall, hitting the Big Bend region as an “extremely dangerous Category 3” hurricane, and bringing with it damaging winds of up to 125 mph and catastrophic storm surge.

Idalia is now moving inland from Florida’s Big Bend region, the National Hurricane Center said.

Thousands of Florida residents are currently in warning zones – either having been urged to evacuate in advance of the storm approaching or told to hunker down in homes until further notice.

Ahead of the storm making landfall, evacuation notices had been issued in at least 21 counties in western and central Florida while 46 counties were placed under a state of emergency.

Officials have reassured Floridians that search and rescue operations are poised and ready to go as soon as the storm passes but – during the storm – residents have been urged to look after their families and hunker down inside.

Even after the storm passes, Mr DeSantis warned people not to drive through flooded streets, to assume that all downed power lines could be live and be careful when using generators – for risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Power outages were already being reported on Tuesday evening before the storm hit with around 50,000 homes without power early on Wednesday morning.

Mr DeSantis’ press conference was also briefly hit with an outage as he spoke of homes being plunged into darkness – before a backup generator restored power.

Meanwhile, a terrifying forecast model has shown that Idalia could actually hit the state of Florida twice over the coming week.

Global Forecasting System, a federal hurricane projection model, forecasted that Idalia would first make landfall on Florida’s Big Bend region on Wednesday morning.

It predicts the storm will then travel up through north Florida and into Georgia and South Carolina, before heading back out into the Atlantic.

However, after that, the storm is forecast to turn southwest and head back toward Florida’s Atlantic coast to make landfall in the state for a second time on Monday.