A campaign adviser to Florida governor Ron DeSantis accused Vice President Kamala Harris of causing "undue panic" with her suggestion that Hurricane Ian-relief aid should be distributed "based on equity."
Harris said Friday that those in lower-income communities and people of color are "most impacted by these extreme conditions," and "we are all thinking about the families in Florida and Puerto Rico with [Hurricane] Fiona and what we need to do to help them in terms of an immediate response and aid."
Speaking during the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum, she said: "We have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity . . . sometimes we have to take into account those disparities."
Christina Pushaw, rapid-response director for DeSantis's reelection campaign, rebuked the vice president: "This is false. @VP's rhetoric is causing undue panic and must be clarified. FEMA Individual Assistance is already available to all Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian, regardless of race or background. If you need assistance visit disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362," Pushaw tweeted.
In a separate tweet, Pushaw pressed Harris to "correct what she said."
Hurricane Ian touched down near Cayo Costa, an island in Lee County, as a category-four hurricane on Wednesday afternoon with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph.
More than 75 percent of Lee County customers were still without power as of 6 a.m. on Saturday, according to the Florida Public Service Commission, as the state contends with widespread flooding and damage caused by the powerful hurricane.
Dana Souza, the city manager in Sanibel, described the damage to the island near Fort Myers as "catastrophic" and "biblical." Parts of the causeway connecting the island to the mainland were destroyed in the storm, leaving the island inaccessible by car.
At least 27 people in Florida have died as a result of the storm, including from drowning.
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