Rep. Byron Donalds, whose congressional district is in southwest Florida and in the path of Hurricane Ian, Wednesday urged people who have not yet evacuated to remain in place and ride out the storm, telling Newsmax that assets are already in place to help once it passes through.
The Florida Republican said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America" that he's in Washington, D.C., where work is continuing in Congress on the spending bill, but his wife and children are "hunkered down" and safe back home.
"What we're seeing is heavy bands are coming into the area," Donalds said. "There are areas of southwest Florida, most areas in southwest Florida, are without power. That's really the news."
But he said he wanted to thank the emergency management systems in his district, as they've "done an exemplary job of getting assets on the ground in position so that when this storm moves through, we can move very quickly to getting power restored as quickly as we can, and getting aid to all the people that will need it."
He stressed that now is not the time for politics, when it comes to questions about the federal government's response, and said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been responsive about making sure its assets are ready for the public.
"Just stay calm," Donalds said, addressing his constituents. "Do not go out now. The bands are heavy. They're coming faster and faster. Do not leave your homes and your home or if you're in a shelter, please stay there.
"Do not go outside at this point. We're in a position now where you have to ride through the storm, and then there's going to be assets. They're going to be available to everybody once the storm passes."
Meanwhile, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has already activated the state's price-gouging hotline to cover the full state, and Donalds said that is "exemplary."
"We've done this before in Florida, so I'm glad that she activated the hotline again," he said. "We really pull together during these storms. Everybody's trying to help each other get back on their feet as quickly as we can."
He noted that there was not a lot of price gouging after Hurricane Irma, but still, "we can't allow people to try to take advantage of the situation. We're going to do what's in the best interests of all the people of southwest Florida during this time, so I'm very thankful to be attorney general for standing up the hotline once again."
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