Open letter to Governor DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis


Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Wednesday September 28th, 2022, as a Category 4 storm. It was one of the strongest hurricanes to have ever hit our state. Maximum sustained winds were around 150 mph as it hit the southwest coast at the island of Cayo Costa near Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Hurricane Ian left more than 2 million Floridians without power, destroyed critical infrastructure, wrecked homes, and flooded thousands of acres of land. Sadly, the hurricane claimed the lives of 119 Floridians.

Five days later, on October 3rd, 2022, as the Democratic Nominee for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services; I temporarily postponed campaign activities to visit devastated areas in minority communities and assess their immediate needs. By doing so, I offered to serve as a liaison between Governor DeSantis and the minority communities impacted the most by Hurricane Ian . My objective was to match the Governor’s need for information with the communities’ need for resources.

I visited Collier, Orange, and Lee counties; inspected the destruction, and met with local residents to collect their requests for the Governor. 

My findings are as follows:

  • Days after the hurricane, many black and brown minority communities in Immokalee, Naples, Orlando, Harlem Heights, and Fort Myers remain without electricity 
  • People have lost homes and have no place to go 
  • Unless provided by local nonprofits and churches, many communities have received no help from the government, including hot meals, water, and essentials 
  • No government agency spoke with them after the hurricane 
  • People are unaware of any future plans by their local governments and are not given any instructions or reassurances 
  • The state government seems to have no direct connection to minority groups in devastated areas 
  • Visiting affected areas immediately after the hurricane, Governor DeSantis overlooked minority communities. 

In touring the affected communities, I documented people’s struggles in short videos. I also collected the requests of Floridians who have been impacted. Click here to watch and listen to their stories. 

Residents of Immokalee (Collier county) requested:

  • Hot food, especially for kids 
  • Drinking water 
  • Restoring electricity and the Internet 
  • Help with filling out FEMA applications online 

Residents of Fort Myers (Lee county) requested:

  • Transitional housing 
  • Rent moratorium 
  • Having instructions and emergency notifications given out in their native languages such as Spanish and Creole 
  • Provide community leaders with a plan so that they coordinate with state authorities together 
  • Unemployment benefits 
  • Extension for health-care enrollment deadline 
  • Restoring electricity 

Residents of Naples (Collier County) requested:

  • Essentials from the local government 
  • Relocation of senior citizens from their unlivable homes into shelters 
  • Approval for SNAP programs for families in need 
  • Transitional housing 
  • Hot meals 

Residents of Orlando (Orange county) requested:

  • Temporary housing 
  • Assistance with home insurance claims 
  • Restoring electricity 
  • Food 
  • Unemployment assistance 

Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis, I am asking you: please bring immediate assistance to minority and underserved communities in the areas that were impacted by Hurricane Ian. The residents of Collier, Lee, and Orange counties are dealing with destruction while having to piece their lives together after such a tragedy. Please be attentive to their needs and direct relief funds to them immediately. 

Thank you.


Naomi Esther Blemur, Democratic Nominee for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services 

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