Rick Scott defends hurricane evacuations amid opposition to vaccine mandates
Rick Scott. Image via AP.

Rick Scott 3.4.19
'What we did was, we gave people good information. I never did an evacuation order.'

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott made a habit of traveling the state ahead of storms, such as Hurricane Irma in 2017, warning them to evacuate if needed and take precautions otherwise.

But during a cable news hit Monday, Scott suggested those evacuation orders were optional after all.

Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box Monday, where a host challenged his opposition to vaccine mandates for COVID-19, Scott said evacuation orders were mandates of a different sort.

“What we did was, I went around the state and said here’s what we know today,” Scott said, when asked about evacuation orders during Hurricane Irma.

Scott said he opened relief centers and “made sure we never ran out of fuel.”

“We kept the state open,” Scott said, noting that six million people evacuated during that storm.

Though the evacuations were framed as mandatory at the time, Scott suggested they were really optional after all, a contrast to his pitched rhetoric as storms approached.

“What we did was, we gave people good information. I never did an evacuation order. I don’t believe in evacuation orders. I believe that you’ll make a good decision. And that’s what people did,” Scott said.

Scott’s rhetoric at the time did not suggest there was much of an option, however.

“If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now,” he said at a morning news conference, as reported by CNN. “Do not wait. Evacuate. Not tonight, not in an hour. You need to go right now.”

“If you have been ordered to evacuate,” the Naples Daily News quoted him as saying, “now is the time to evacuate.”

Scott’s calls for evacuation made national news, with a Washington Post article reminding workers they could be fired for evacuating storm zones without permission from their employers.

Polling showed Scott’s constant evacuation urging, coupled with the shifting path of the storm, led to evacuation order fatigue. A Mason-Dixon survey said only 57% would evacuate if ordered to when facing a threat commensurate to that of Hurricane Irma.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Lynda Friedman

    December 13, 2021 at 9:37 am

    Scott thinks he is still gov. Lone Senators do not have authority to declare evacuations. Amazingly enough that remains a state, county or even one of the few local actions remaining after the current Republican Florida legislature declared all authority is theirs.

    Scott’s “helpfullness” just confused people. What a publicity hound!

    • Alex

      December 14, 2021 at 10:19 pm

      Rick wants to be President.

      Everything he does (he thinks) is a way towards it.

      He even tried to emulate Trump’s unhinged fire hose of me me me stupidity a few times.

      It fell flatter than a pancake. Room went silent.


  • Sister Lucia Ricardo, Capilla de Chockfullonuns

    December 13, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    If Rick the Dick Scott says he never called for evacuations then that is that and that’s all there is to it! You must take his word for it, and believe. He is willing you to believe — look into his wild eyes. He is saying, You can’t make people do those Covid things, those public safety things, and therefore I never tried to make people do those kind of things, those safety things, when it came to hurricanes.
    He is quite sure this is sound political strategy.
    Oh, Rick, if only you were as bright as your shiny head. Bless your heart.

  • Lynda

    December 13, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    Good comment. Too bad trump has not uncovered any fraud in Fl 2020 elections. We who oppose Scott’s greedy, self serving comments, votes and actions could ask him to resign so a real Senator would replace him.

  • Lynda Friedman

    December 13, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    I have never and would not use ” Rick the #%&* as the poster I was congratulating used and was published. Pointing out my opinion of an elected official’s short comings in polite language without swearing should not be a reason for refusing publishing.

    Now I understand why your new whatever asks for complete names; only certain people apparently can break civil comment rules. What is good enough for the New York Times should be good enough for your venture.

  • tom palmer

    December 14, 2021 at 11:29 am

    I don’t like Scott, but that was really a false equivalency argument.

Comments are closed.


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