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Jeb Bush: We have to do what countries like The Netherlands do

Former Gov. Jeb Bush offered some long-term leadership perspective for Florida to consider with hurricane preparation on television Wednesday morning, saying the state needs to look at expanding its toughest building codes, do more to discourage development in flood zones, and adopt “adaptive policies for land use.”

The latter point, made during Bush’s telephone appearance on the “Morning Joe” show on MSNBC, is a reference to the comprehensive systems of flood protection and disaster resiliance infrastructure in use elsewhere.

Bush also took a shot at the political advertisements that played across Florida television Wednesday afternoon and evening as Hurricane Michael devastated the central Panhandle. He said politicians need to “put their arms down.”

The two-term governor who oversaw the state’s responses to Hurricanes Charley, Francis, Ivan, and Jeanne, among others, primarily offered longer-term vision for Florida as hurricanes appear to be increasing in size, speed, intensity, and numbers. That’s especially true because the state’s population now tops 20 million and population growth is unlikely to slow, he offered.

“We need more adaptive policies for land use. If there’s going to be more storms, then we have to do what countries like The Netherlands do. We’re not going to go back to ‘wild Florida’. We have 22 million people,” Bush said.

He also spoke of the state’s tough building codes, adopted while he was Governor from 1999-2007, and how the state needs to look at how some buildings dating from those codes survive while others do not, and consider making changes. And he said it is time, nationally, to stop building in flood zones, and that lenders and insurance companies need to make that clear.

Bush then referred to charts shown earlier on the show that tracked dramatic increaeses in the dollar amounts of property damage due to hurricanes in recent years.

“The reason why all those charts y’all showed earlier this morning that there’s more properety damage is because there’s more property,” Bush said. “It’s a fact that we have this situation and the need to create adaptive policies over the long haul to deal with them.”

Bush also expressed some disgust for the political ads showing in spite of the disaster.

“My only hope is that in the midst of a campaign season, people need to put their arms down and stop the advertising, stop the campaigning, at least in these afffected areas, and help their fellow man,” Bush said.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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