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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/29/22

Guests: Gina McCarthy, Nick Akerman, Marcus Coleman, Amy Patterson


Recovery efforts begin after utter devastation in parts of Florida from Hurricane Ian. Ginni Thomas testifies before the January 6 Committee. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faces a leadership test.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My chimney came down. I was afraid it was going to come through the roof and crush me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s just debris everywhere. My yard looks like a war zone. You know, it looks disastrous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came here in the mid-`70s. I was on the police department for almost 25 years, saw a lot of storms here. This is by far the worst storm I have ever witnessed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise you I`m never going to stay for another storm ever again here. However, I am one of the lucky ones.


REID: Recovery efforts begin after utter devastation in parts of Florida, while millions more people are now at risk as Ian moves north.

Also tonight, he isn`t tossing paper towels, but Governor Ron DeSantis is handling this hurricane in a weirdly Trump anyway.

And what we`re learning about Ginni Thomas` meeting with the January 6 Committee. When she wasn`t texting the White House in the days leading up to the insurrection, she was encouraging states to reverse Trump`s embarrassing defeat.

We begin tonight with Hurricane Ian decimating Southwest Florida as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. and now the state begins the colossal task of picking up the pieces.

Rescue teams are still looking for survivors as we get a first glimpse at the destruction. And, from what we have seen so far, it is staggering. Take a look. This is Fort Myers homes completely destroyed, while streets are virtually nonexistent. One resident told "The Tampa Bay Times" the island is like somebody took an atom bomb and dropped it.

A section of the only bridge to get onto Sanibel Island was completely severed from the storm surge, making rescuers -- it makes rescues only possible by vote. And in Lee County, you can see neighborhoods almost completely crushed, homes leveled and debris scattered.

Even Central Florida far inland is feeling the effects. In Orlando, home to Disney World, major flooding prompted emergency rescues at a nursing home. Three hospitals in Lee County were also forced to evacuate patients due to a lack of running water, as nearly two million in the state are without power.

Right now, at least 10 people have died in the wake of the storm. But that number is likely to go up. President Biden today gave a sobering warning about what to expect.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida`s history. The numbers of still -- are still unclear, but we`re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.


REID: For those who survived the storm, emotions are still running high.

One woman told NBC`s Kerry Sanders about the horrors that she witnessed trying to protect her husband, who is hospital bed-ridden and paralyzed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I took some blankets, and I put holes in them with a scissors, and I zip-tied them to the hospital bed, and then I took a big tarpaulin that had grommets, and I zip-tied that over it.

And then I put pillows and plastic bags and I duct-taped them to the top of the sideboard. And then I put pillows between the sideboard and the window, because I didn`t want him to get cut up to death as the window blew in. And then I put a life jacket on him so that, if the water came, he wouldn`t drown. He would float.

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Quite an ordeal for you to go through that. I mean, it`s...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I don`t want him to die.

SANDERS: No, of course. And he`s OK, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s alive. He`s traumatized, but he`s alive.


REID: And Ian isn`t done yet. Now a Category 1 hurricane again, the storm is currently making its way up the East Coast, expected to hit South Carolina tomorrow.

Orlando is just one of the cities that have been hit with high winds and major flooding from Hurricane Ian.

NBC`s Jesse Kirsch is in Orlando.

Jesse, what are we -- what are you seeing?


Yesterday, when you and I spoke we were looking at massive downpours behind me. All that water has to go somewhere. And this is one of the places it ended up. This is a neighborhood in Orlando. These are homes. And you can see that many of them are currently at least partially submerged.

We`re going to push in on a basketball hoop out there, because that`s an easy reference point for height. We know the rim of a basketball hoop is 10 feet tall. We don`t know if that`s regulation, but you can figure that`s approximately around 10 feet up. And you can see that the basketball hoop, the beam, is at least partially submerged in these waters.

Officials say, in this community alone, they made around 30 rescues. And this is one of the communities that includes mobile homes. And that is one of the types of homes that officials were most kids turned about here yesterday. That`s one group of people that officials had really been stressing they should be making their way to hardened shelters to ride out the storm.


And so, obviously, those concerns proving to come to fruition here. For people who aren`t familiar with the Orlando area, obviously, in general, with stormwaters, you do not want to be wading through it. You do not know what you could step on. You do not know what waits for you under the surface.

But what almost certainly waits under the surface in some waters here in Orlando are alligators. So that`s just one more reason for people to not be trying to go in there to see what damage is done. We have got a little wind picking up here right now. But it has mostly been dry here this afternoon into evening.

And the wind gusts have largely subsided, which is good news, because if the wind picks up over certain levels, officials say rescue -- or -- sorry -- not rescue -- infrastructure crews, teams that are trying to repair what was damaged, will have to put a pause on their efforts.

But I can tell you, even though it has largely been dry here this afternoon and evening, the water level in this community really has not receded. So we`re looking at water that is somewhat stagnant here right now, Joy, with so many people right now in the dark -- Joy.

REID: Jesse Kirsch, and thanks for reminding folks, yes, just because you`re in a residential area does not mean that there are not alligators. That is Florida.

Thank you very much.

Let`s bring in NBC meteorologist Bill Karins.

Bill, where`s this thing going?

BILL KARINS, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, it`s heading to the Carolinas.

And it`s heading stronger than we expected once again. I mean, this storm has been an overachiever ever since it went through Western Cuba, and then, of course, with just the horrendous images of what a catastrophic strong Category 4 hurricane does. We have seen that in the whole beginning of your show.

And now everyone in the Carolinas is like, what`s it going to bring to us? What are we going to look like when this is done? Do we need to evacuate? Well, as far as evacuations go, listen to your emergency managers. And if they tell you to go, go. Then come back when -- after it`s gone Saturday night, or maybe Sunday, if we`re lucky, if the damage isn`t too bad.

So it`s a hurricane again. It`s over warm water, but it`s not going to quickly blow up to like a major hurricane or anything else. Hurricane Center thinks it will get a little bit stronger overnight. But it shouldn`t be anything like you`re going to wake up in the morning and go, I can`t believe how strong, most likely, a solid Category 1, at worst, maybe bordering on a Category 2.

So here`s that forecast from the Hurricane Center. This was at 5:00 p.m. The new update comes at 11:00 p.m. this evening. And they shifted the center cone a little bit. This has a large wind field. We`re going to have tropical-storm-force winds from Jacksonville all the way to the Outer Banks, because it has a huge wind field.

Those are all the areas that have a chance for power outrages. I care about the centerline because the worst storm surge will be to the right of that at landfall. That`s the onshore winds. It was over Charleston. They shifted it a little bit closer in between Charleston and Georgetown. So that`s important for storm surge, nothing else.

That`s the only thing that really matters for that, and 80 mile-per-hour winds, and this would be right around 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon. What`s going to be interesting about this storm is that the highest wind and all the rain are before landfall. So, you`re going to wake up to just gusty winds, pouring rain, maybe power outages.

And by the time the storm clears the coast, that`s when actually the weather will be improving. Then it rains itself out heading towards Charlotte, North Carolina. All of our computers kind of pinpoint this is at noon very close to areas of Charleston and just to the east of that.

Hurricane warnings, of course, you would expect. And, Joy, as far as storm surge goes, and we just saw what storm surge damage can do, it looks like four to seven feet is the worst-case scenario for the central coastline of Charleston. In 2017, Hurricane Matthew did some pretty significant damage with a seven-foot storm surge.

So we`re hoping we don`t get to the peak of these numbers. We will find out tomorrow afternoon.

REID: We will, indeed. Meteorologist Bill Karins of NBC, thank you very much. I really appreciate you.

KARINS: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

Joining me on the phone now is Amy Patterson, manager of Collier County, Florida, which does include the city of Naples.

Give us a sense, please, if you would, how extensive the damage is in Collier County and Naples. We heard the name Naples a lot yesterday when we were talking about places that were inundated by the storm.


Well, we have just begun our damage assessment today, after we`re wrapping up any search and recovery that was ongoing. We did take a substantial amount of storm surge along the coast. And the power of water is quite devastating.

So, as the days go on, we`re going to have a better idea what that damage looks like. But there is significant damage along the coast both to some of our infrastructure, as well as some bottom floors of structures.

REID: We have heard that we`re going to, as time goes on, get a sense of how deadly this hurricane turned out to be. Do you have an assessment of the injuries or the unfortunate deaths that took place there? Or is it still too early to know?

PATTERSON: It`s really too early to know.

We have had some reports of deaths, but the facts are unclear, and they -- those have to still be validated by our medical examiner. It appears that we have been fortunate, at least here in Collier County, compared to some of the things we`re hearing from our neighbors to the north. But we will know more in the upcoming days.

REID: Collier County Manager Amy Patterson, we wish you -- wish you and your community very well. Thank you very much for being here.


PATTERSON: Thank you.

REID: Let`s bring in Marcus Coleman -- cheers.

Let`s bring in Marcus Coleman from FEMA. He`s the director of the DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

And thank you so much for being here, Director Coleman.

What is the federal government to do? Because the storm is not over. It`s traveling up, as you can see from those forecasts and Bill Karins showing that map. It`s still moving, and there`s still a lot of standing water and still a lot of emerging damage.

At this stage, what is the role of the federal government?


So, the role of the federal government is to continue to listen to our local leaders, our local officials and the community to ensure that we are prepositioning commodities and people to meet the immediate needs of the lifesaving and life-sustaining mission.

And that`s exactly what we`re doing alongside our colleagues in Florida. But we are also working closely with communities in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and all other states that are bracing for impacts from the remnants of Hurricane Ian.

REID: And we know that there are about 2.6 million Floridians who are without power right now. We have had about 5,000 National Guard troops that have been deployed to Florida to try to help out.

In addition to the rescues that have to be done, unfortunately, water being incredibly deadly, and trying to figure out the locations of people who might have fled places like mobile homes, is there anything that the sort of world outside of Florida can really do at this point? What is needed?

COLEMAN: So, the number one thing that people can do in Florida that are impacted in those affected counties, dialing 1-800-621-3362, signing up for disaster assistance. For those that are able with Internet access, they can also go to

I was actually on the phone prior to this interview with pastors and bishops from the African Methodist Episcopal Church. And that church is supporting their bishops, their pastors and their community members with pertinent information, because we know not everybody has access to power. People are still trying to get the latest updates and information.

And so we want to ensure that FEMA, as well as our full federal family, is providing the best source of trusted information on how people can get the help that they need, and where they can go to get additional resources from our nongovernment partners.

REID: And what do people do? I mean, we know that three to four hospitals were impacted, particularly in Lee County, which was pretty much the hardest hit, and had to evacuate patients.

Where do those patients go? How is it, like, sort of ensured that they will be properly cared for? And what can people do if they have a medical emergency in this kind of a situation?

COLEMAN: Well, through our FEMA Office of Disability Integration and Coordination and our colleagues at Health and Human Services, we are working closely with hospitals, independent living centers, in ensuring that those people with disabilities and those with access and functional needs are getting the care that they need.

We were co-located prior to landfall with the state of Florida and continue to use the data and information we have to ensure that the medically fragile and socially vulnerable are getting the care that they need. This is a time for us to continue again listening to community needs, so we can adjust our resources and commodities as appropriate, but making sure that we also keep people first in everything that we do, as they continue to go on what`s going to continue to be a long road to recovery.

REID: Marcus Coleman from FEMA, thank you for shouting out the churches. The good churches really do kick in, in these times of need. Some of them were impacted, though, too.

So, we`re wishing everyone well, and hopefully that people will be able to recover from this soon.

Thank you very much, sir.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

REID: Coming up next on THE REIDOUT -- cheers -- coming up next on THE REIDOUT: Ginni Thomas was proudly smiling today as she headed in for her interview with the January 6 Committee.

Being accused of trying to help overturn an election is nothing to smile about, Ginni. And she, by the way, still believes the election was stolen, so there`s that.

We will be right back.



REID: Hurricane Ian delayed this week`s public hearing of the January 6 Committee, but it isn`t -- but its important work continues.

Today, Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, longtime right-wing activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was interviewed in person by the committee for three-and-a-half-hours. I mean, it`s about daggone time, since Mrs. Thomas has a lot to explain.

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson said that she answered some questions and expressed that she still believed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, which is exactly what she argued in numerous texts to then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days and weeks following the election, which is around the same time Mrs. Thomas was also pressuring state lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin to choose their own fake electors.

And of particular interest to the committee, Mrs. Thomas` e-mails with Trump lawyer John Eastman, who came up with the plot to keep Trump in power in his infamous coup memo, urging Vice President Mike Pence to simply overturn the election all by himself. It is also worth noting that John Eastman once clerked for Clarence Thomas.

Regarding her interview today, Ginni Thomas`s attorney released a statement saying -- quote -- "She answered a lot of the committee`s questions. As she told the committee, her minimal and mainstream activity focused on ensuring that reports of fraud and irregularities were investigated. Beyond that, she played no role in any events in the 2020 election results" -- unquote.

Weird use of the word mainstream.

Joining me now is Nick Akerman, former assistant special Watergate prosecutor and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Thank you for being here, Nick.

This is so unusual. It`s sui generis. There is -- I can`t even name the wife of -- or spouse of any other Supreme Court justice ever in history. This woman has been a longtime right-wing activist, and she seemed to have been actively involved, including e-mailing her husband`s former clerk John Eastman.


What do you make of all of it? And what do you think the probative value of talking to her might have been?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, it`s hard to say what the probative value is going to be.

I mean, my big question is, who asked her to call these legislators in Wisconsin and Arizona to get them to basically vote in these fake Trump electors? That`s my big question.

I mean, that`s the part that is really concerning. I mean, she could not have done that on her own. It`s hard to believe that she was acting as a free agent there.

And the other big concern, obviously, is that she`s a wife of a Supreme Court justice. And Clarence Thomas, while she was doing all of this, he was the one dissenting vote when the January 6 Committee was trying to get all of Trump`s records from the White House that were at the Archives. And he was the only one that dissented.

And then, when Pennsylvania tried to -- the Republicans tried to appeal the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which gave an extra three days to count votes, not a big deal, considering the circumstances, he went on and wrote this dissent that, basically, banned absentee ballots, and basically came up with this idea that there`s a more -- more chances for fraud with absentee ballots than regular voting, all of which is absolutely crazy.

But it`s the same thing that she`s been espousing. So you have got a real conflict of interests here. And it`s just very unusual. I can`t remember any situation in the court where a spouse has taken a political view that is basically right on the money with her husband, and they both claim they never talk about this stuff, which I find completely absurd.

REID: And I will note that Chairman Thompson did say that she was a witness. They weren`t accusing her of anything. They would include something -- if it was -- if there`s something of merit, they will include in the next hearing. That`s the notes from Chairman Bennie Thompson.

But she -- you just named the less cuckoo things that she was doing. Here are some of the things that she was texting to the chief of staff to the president, Mark Meadows.

This is two days after the election -- quote -- "Biden crime family and ballot fraud co-conspirators are being arrested and detained for ballot fraud right now and over coming days and will be living in barges off Gitmo to face military tribunals for sedition."

This person is a conspiracy theorist. She doesn`t seem to be wrapped too tight when it comes to her versions of reality. Is it possible that somebody like a John Eastman would collaborate with a Supreme Court justice`s wife? To what end? Do you think that this could have been because they thought that eventually the election might end up in the Supreme Court, end up in front of the Supreme Court?

AKERMAN: Well, I think they were certainly trying to do that. They were trying to get it into the courts, even though every single court, including the Supreme Court, knocked them down.

But, yes, I mean, lookit, she probably had a fairly close relationship with Eastman beforehand. I mean, the judges always have yearly events with their clerks. Clerks...

REID: Yes.

AKERMAN: ... that clerked for somebody in the past, they always keep in touch with their judge.

And I`m sure she met him in the course of that. I mean, birds of a feather flock together. I mean, they`re both crazy in that sense. So, it doesn`t surprise me that they would be feeding off each other. And it doesn`t surprise me that they would be talking.

I think the real question is, how much influence does she have on what Clarence Thomas is writing on the Supreme Court? And what was she doing talking to legislators in this criminal conspiracy to try and get fake electors for Trump elected in Wisconsin in Arizona? That is the key question.

REID: The other issue with Clarence Thomas -- I mean, the issue is, you can assume that somebody`s spouse has their own life and does their own thing. Fine.

But, like you said, this symmetry between what he`s voting on and what she`s doing -- and then also there is this. Back in 2011 -- this is a story that has resurfaced -- between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation, which you have heard that name a lot, according to Common Cause, who reviewed their foundation -- the foundation`s IRS records.

Clarence Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosures. So he`s kind of hiding her income, not being honest about it. But there`s nothing anyone can do, because there are no ethics rules in the Supreme Court.


AKERMAN: No. No, it just shows you what`s going on.

They`re all trying to get close to Clarence Thomas and influence Clarence Thomas through Ginni. That`s what`s going on. That`s why they`re paying her. That`s why Mark Meadows was taking your calls.


If you looked at those 29 e-mails that go back and forth, I mean, it`s pretty obvious to me, if her name was just Ginni Jones, she would not have gotten past right operator at the White House, right?

REID: Right.

AKERMAN: I mean, they`re all trying to influence Clarence Thomas through her.

REID: Yes.

AKERMAN: And that is what`s really going on. And that`s why this is so evil.

REID: Well, if we -- we don`t have much time.

But do you have any comment on this special master, the Aileen Cannon, this judge, who has essentially delayed -- allowed a delay in Trump having to file an affidavit saying whether or not he believes anything was planted in his house? She`s given him another bye.

AKERMAN: Yes, I think that the government agreed to part of that just because they have had a hard time getting a vendor that was going to put all these documents online.

And the reason was because none of these vendors would want to engage in business with Donald Trump. They didn`t want to sign a contract with him. And I`m sure it`s because they knew they wouldn`t be paid...

REID: They wouldn`t be paid.

AKERMAN: ... even though, under her order, he could be held in contempt if he doesn`t pay, which means he could go to jail.

REID: Yes.

AKERMAN: So it`s crazy.

REID: The whole thing.

AKERMAN: None of this is very good for Donald Trump, none of it. It`s just going to keep this whole matter in the spotlight.

REID: Yes.

AKERMAN: And it`s just going to remind people right up through the midterms what a crook this guy is.

REID: Very succinctly said.

Nick Akerman, thank you very much, my friend. Appreciate you.

OK, coming up: The aftermath of Hurricane Ian is a huge leadership task for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who opposed, opposed federal aid after Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey.

Stay with us.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is professional-grade damage.

QUESTION: What was your first reaction when you came out and you saw this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Jesus, that it didn`t go, because it could have fallen on my house. It could have fallen on the apartment that I have here.


REID: At Florida battles one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the United States, Governor Ron DeSantis is -- well, he`s running for president, not officially, not yet, but nothing like a disaster and national cameras to boost one`s White House ambitions. I mean, they did learn that from daddy Trump.

But DeSantis seems to have added some of his own spin to the act. I mean, you would be forgiven if you`re a Florida taxpayer for wondering why Florida`s first lady, Casey DeSantis, who nobody elected, was standing beside the governor at a press conference to boost a private disaster fund just weeks after her husband splurged taxpayer money, the interest from COVID relief funds, by the way, to ship brown folks from Texas to Martha`s Vineyard.

And, actually, speaking of press conferences, I guess we have to go to one now, because Ron DeSantis is giving one. And here we are.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): ... because of the massive wind speed and the storm surge and deposited in a body of water.

There was cars floating in the middle of the water. Some of the homes were total losses. I would say the most significant damage that I saw was on Fort Myers Beach. Some of the homes were wiped out. And some of it was just concrete slabs.

Of course, there were damage to -- to some of our infrastructure, particularly the Sanibel Causeway. There were breaks in that in multiple different areas. It was interesting. The pylons on the water, where you had that part of the bridge, that actually was good.

It was the point where it was on a sandbar that just got totally wiped away or, from the mainland, there was breaks there. So that`s going to require major, major overhaul and potentially a complete rebuild. They`re going to look at it and see. That`s the only way on Sanibel and Captiva Island. So the operations to help people there have been mostly by air.

And all told, search-and-rescue operations -- it started in the wee hours of the morning. As soon as the winds died down enough to where it was safe, you had Coast Guard assets. You had urban search-and-rescue teams. We have had the National Guard out assisting people. There have been more than 700 confirmed rescues and there`s likely many more than that that will be confirmed as more data comes in.

People been rescued from places like Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Marco Island, as well as the barrier islands in Charlotte County. Obviously, there was a lot of calls coming in as the storm was really raging yesterday. People who did not evacuate were hunkered down. There was storm surge.

There was a lot of apprehension, understandably. When, initially, the first responders came this morning, people would wave them down, whether they were by helicopter boat, or high-water vehicle. Now what they`re finding is, in places like Sanibel, most of the residents are just waving, thank you for coming, but they say that they`re fine and that they`re staying put.

Now, I think that there`s going to be issues with being on some of those islands, because they`re not going to have services like we expect for quite some time, given the limitations of transportation. But, nevertheless, that`s a sign that some of the folks who did ride it out are stabilized in their home.

They -- our first responders are doing targeted searches, just going home by home, checking to see if people are OK, and then responding to specific reports if there are missing loved ones. There will, of course, be many more rescues that are added to the tiller.


Now, we absolutely expect to have mortality from this hurricane. But I just caution people there`s a process by where that is confirmed. And there`s people -- I know that people have said certain things.

In terms of confirmed, that will be made apparent over the coming days. But I think the things that have been said out there, that is not something that has been confirmed at this -- at this juncture. Of course, we have thousands and thousands of people on the ground working to restore power, opening the roads, bringing in food and water and restoring communications.

Talking with local folks in Lee County, probably the biggest immediate hurdle that they`re facing is, their county water utility had a big water main break. That is necessary to be fixed in order to provide basic water services for the residents of the county.

So they have been working to troubleshoot it. They requested the state to enlist federal support to help diagnose and potentially fix the problem. So we worked with FEMA and Gracia. And the Army Corps of Engineers came in. I mean, they came in pretty early. I think -- I think I think Kevin called them maybe like 3:00 in the morning.

They were in Southwest Florida from Jacksonville by early this afternoon. And so they`re helping to diagnose and hopefully be able to remedy that. But that`s going to be something that`s very, very important for the county to get fixed.

In the meantime, we`re assisting health care facilities to provide working water, because they need that to be able to take care of their patients. So, we`re shuttling water from Lakeland into health care facilities. Right now, there are about 20 trucks en route with 60,000 gallons of water for a total of 1.2 million gallons of water.

And I think they have been able to fix some of the water. One of the one of the three hospitals has actually been able to fix the water problem there. So that`s good news, Port Tampa, Port Everglades, there, the fuel is flowing in to some of our major ports. And so you`re seeing a lot of fuel now flowing throughout the state. More than 330,000 gallons of fuel have already been moved in to Southwest Florida.

I actually saw a couple of the gas stations open in the Fort Myers area when we were there today. With this fuel, the state of Florida set up six fuel depots to fully support all first response efforts. And we think the remaining ports in the state of Florida will open between sometime tomorrow and sometime on Saturday.

There`s been a massive amount of supplies staged. We`re also bringing more into the region, more ambulances, more food, water and ice, more generators, more (AUDIO GAP) in to service mechanical shops to help to repair and maintain emergency vehicles, which they`re in rugged conditions when you`re going through water and others, bringing in more tarps, bringing in kits for parents of infants and toddlers to give them 10 days` worth of support and bring in more high-water ladders.

Now, as of 6:00 p.m., there are 2.6 million, approximately, reported power outages through -- throughout the state of Florida. And that was anticipated. So far, compared to this morning, 200,000 accounts have been restored in Southwest Florida, 28,000 in Lee, 62,000 in Sarasota, 14,000 in Collier, 33,000 in Manatee, 12,000 in Charlotte. And 44,000 in Hillsborough had been restored.

Of course, the pre-staging for this was over 42,000. And I can tell you, when we were in Charlotte, the reports were generally positive that a lot of that infrastructure had been able to weather the storm. You still have to work obviously to reconnect the power. But, in some areas, you may need to rebuild from the ground up. In other areas, where the infrastructure maintained integrity, you would be more just trying to re-hook everything.

So that`s a 24/7 process. So, if anybody sees some of the utility trucks pulled over somewhere and maybe someone getting rest, understand they`re working constant shifts, and everyone`s on the clock the whole time. And they don`t actually ever have a time where people are not working. So we really appreciate that, because we understand how important it is for folks to have those basic services resume.

There have, of course, been damages to cell phone towers, and, particularly, in places like Lee County. The telecom companies have brought in, they earmarked 100 cell phone towers being set up, and many of those are being set up in Southwest Florida.

I have been able to speak with the CEOs of AT&T and T-Mobile. While there have been damages, a lot of their infrastructure has weathered the storm fairly well. So, while there may need to be repairs, they feel good about getting up service. And I know some people do have service in those areas. And we were able to see that.


FDOT had more than 1200 personnel on the ground. And I`m happy to report the road situation is, by and large, really good. I think if -- I was just talking with Kevin before we came out here. If we were here yesterday at like noon, thinking about what the road situation would look like, I think we thought that there would have been way, way more roads that were blocked by debris.

Of course, we did have the Sanibel. I mean, there are -- there are issues, but there`s also a lot of roads where the traffic is flowing on I-75 without a problem. And most of the other roads are doing really well. Sunshine Skyway Bridge has reopened. And so we are happy to see that.

Most school districts throughout the state will be reopening either Friday or Monday. Obviously, Lee and some of those areas may be a little bit different calculation for them. We`re thankful that FEMA has activated individual assistance for Floridians who`ve been affected by the storm.

If you are in need of help recovering, visit or call 1-800-621-3362. FEMA has approved our request to add some of the Central Florida counties into the individual assistance. Kevin will have more details on that. But we appreciate that, because you look at the images, like, you can see a house that`s been totaled on Fort Myers Beach.

And, obviously, it`s a very sad thing to see. You can see boats that have been flipped or cars that have been flipped over. And those are very striking images. But, as the storm has moved through the state, it has caused a lot of problems with really historic flooding in parts of Central Florida and into Northeast Florida.

And so it`s important that those folks also have the ability to get assistance if they need it. Now, over 8,700 people have already registered with FEMA. If you`re going to make a claim, take a picture. If you have had flooding, take a picture of the water line on your house. Make sure you`re documenting the damage.

Jimmy Patronis, our chief financial officer, is going to be doing insurance villages at these disaster recovery sites. So, if you go in -- now, you don`t need to go in to get FEMA assistance. You can do it online. But if you have questions, you go in, you can have people from the different insurance carriers. Jimmy`s also going to help people who have NFIP flood policies to be able to file those claims and get those claims paid as soon as possible.

And we expect that that will be done without much delay from the insurance carriers.

We`re happy that a lot of businesses have committed to provide our first responders and volunteers with sustenance, Culver`s, Firehouse Subs, Burger King, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, and Texas Roadhouse. And we think many, many more will want to come and also offer assistance.

For those who are coming in as either first responders or linemen, Buc-ee`s is giving away meals and soft drinks. If you stop in their Daytona location, you will be able to avail yourself of some really good stuff there.

We`re continuing. As Kevin has said, these first 72 hours are really life safety, and then working to restore the main services, power, fuel and communications. And there`s massive numbers of people on the ground working 24/7 to do that.

Of course, it`s too early to know exactly what the needs of everybody...

REID: Joining me now is David Jolly, MSNBC political analyst, a former Republican congressman who is no longer familiar with the party.

David,you`re a politician. You ran for office in the state of Florida. I don`t know if you served in Congress when DeSantis was a Tea Party freshman congressman.


REID: But what you understand, I think, better than anyone else -- I worked in politics for a while, but I think you understand it better than I do -- is that there are two kinds of ways to run for office.

There is paid media, where you purchase an ad.

JOLLY: Sure.

REID: You purchase ad time on TV. You send out postcards every time. That`s paid media. And then there`s earned media.

Earned media is way more valuable. It`s far more valuable. It`s when you can get unpaid media. It`s when you can get the media to pay attention to you and to watch you doing something that`s only positive, but there`s no negative spin attached to it where you don`t have to pay for such an ad. That was, like, huge earned media.


REID: And I think DeSantis understands that the earned media that he gets from doing these press conferences is very valuable to him politically. Let`s just be clear, right?

Am I wrong? Am I right about that?

JOLLY: Sure.

REID: Yes.

JOLLY: You`re exactly right.

Look, a governor or a president at a time of crisis and tragedy is -- it has the opportunity to project leadership and strong leadership. And in the early days, that leadership really goes unquestioned.


But, as the days go by, that leadership does get evaluated.

REID: Yes.

JOLLY: And so, look, I think there`s a lot of heat coming towards Ron DeSantis for a couple of reasons.

He is now a Republican governor who needs one person to help him. And it`s Joe Biden. And he needs the help of Joe Biden. And then he also needs the help of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because there will be an aid request that the Congress has to approve likely when they approve a final appropriations bill in early December.

Ron DeSantis knows that the Florida economy cannot absorb the tragedy that just hit. The federal government and Washington will need national Democrats to agree to help Ron DeSantis. And so, while the projection of strength now is important for protecting human life and recovery of those who might be missing or stranded, what will happen in the coming days is, Floridians and the nation will realize that Florida is not in a place economically to absorb the tragedy that just happened.

Hurricane Ian, if Florida had to absorb it, it would wreck Florida`s economy.

REID: Yes.

JOLLY: It would destroy what is left of a home insurance market that is already teetering on the brink of default.

And it would expose the misbalance, if you will, the lack of balance between how we spend money on certain priorities. Joy, you raised the analogy or the focus on the fact that this is a governor who just spent money to evict migrants from the state of Texas to Martha`s Vineyard.

Governor Ron DeSantis asked for $18 million, $18 million to evict migrants. Today, his wife, in announcing what will soon become the Casey fund, this humanitarian fund that his wife will go around the state ensuring Florida - - Florida displaced residents receive some aid, was proud to announce $1.5 million to $2 million. Think about that.

This is where the heat is coming. The heat is coming because this is a governor who is the administrator of an economy that`s on the brink of collapse, who has spent money on priorities that don`t support Floridians. And while, today, we focus on his executive leadership, there will be hard questions coming.

REID: And, by the way, it`s not even executive leadership.

He is simply -- all he has to do now is open up his arms and receive federal money. Let`s just be clear.

JOLLY: Right.

REID: That is the executive leadership. We heard Russel Honore yesterday, you read the script.

Other than that, he`s got his person that`s in charge of disaster recovery will do that. As you said, this is going to become a federal issue. Those of you who have not lived in Florida don`t understand, a lot of people buy their homes. They get hurricane insurance. Hurricane insurance is not flood insurance.

This was not a windy storm. This was a rainy storm. This was a floody storm. And you have a lot of stagnant water that is destroying property right now. People are going to have to go to FEMA. People are going to have to go to the fence for that money.

And when Ron DeSantis was in Congress and you guys were in Congress, when he was a Tea Party freshman, when New York and New Jersey faced the exact same tragedy -- I mean, literally, the subways in New York were flooded.


REID: People were -- could have drowned in the subway. When Ron DeSantis had the opportunity to make that decision and say, well, should the people of New York and New Jersey, who were hit by a catastrophic hurricane they weren`t even used to -- they`re not even in Florida. They are not used to hurricanes.

JOLLY: That`s right.

REID: He said, no, that shouldn`t happen. He, Marco Rubio and other Tea Party members of Senate and House said they shouldn`t have that money. It`s too expensive.

And now, as you said, he`s now got to go hat in hand to Joe Biden.

JOLLY: That`s right.

REID: It`s something he didn`t even believe in as a Tea Partier.

JOLLY: He is about to have to justify doing something that is antithetical to his entire ideological narrative.

His entire story as a conservative Republican is anti-Washington, and that people should absorb their own risk and people should take care of their own lives. Well, in a time of tragedy, people need help. And where Ron DeSantis is a no-government conservative, he`s about to become a big government Republican.

At the same time that Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio were voting no, I was introducing a national catastrophic fund that said, somehow, we have to aggregate floods and fires and tornadoes and ice storms and all these other tragedies that befall the American people and figure out, how do we absorb the cost to reset people`s lives?

Ron DeSantis and others said, no, we don`t have to do that. That`s not our role. And Ron DeSantis led a no-government wing of the Republican Party that says, let people be on their own.

Now he`s in a position as the governor of having to do something for them, and the only way he can do that, Joy, the only way, is by asking for Washington, D.C., to bail him out.

REID: Yes.

JOLLY: The interesting thing is, what hangs in the balance is his entire political career.

REID: Yes.

JOLLY: He will be judged by the way he performs and succeeds in this moment, but he`s not going to be able to do it on his own.

Now, I actually think he has the audacity that he will go hat in hand, while at the same time insulting Joe Biden and the Democratic leaders.

REID: Yes.


JOLLY: Because they that`s where his politics are.

REID: And, by the way, I just -- one more thing, because we have had another guest I want to bring in.

But I just want to make this point for the audience to really be clear about this. Ron DeSantis, that $12 million that they used to ship migrants and go to Texas, another state, and take those migrants, that was money that was an interest money from COVID relief funds. He didn`t want to use the money for COVID relief.

He wanted to use it for that, for these demonstrations of cruelty, because they`re actually, in the Republican Party, is no political reward for compassion. The reward that you get in the party is for cruelty. It isn`t for compassion. Wokeness -- wokeness and compassion is considered weakness, and so you don`t get a reward for that.

And people who have tried to do the compassion thing and the bipartisan compassion have suffered for it. Chris Christie -- let us not forget...

JOLLY: That`s right.

REID: ... Chris Christie hugged President Obama before the 2012 election because, after Hurricane Sandy, he understood they needed the money. He embraced President Obama and lost any chance that he would ever be president of the United States.

JOLLY: That`s right.

REID: Charlie Crist, who is a deeply compassionate man -- he is kind of like Joe Biden. He`s a huggy guy. He`s going to come and give you if you`re hurting.

He essentially was booted out of the party for being compassionate to voters who were standing in long lines in 2008...

JOLLY: That`s right.

REID: ... for taking Obama -- Obama stimulus money, when the -- again, the economy was collapsing.

There isn`t a Republican you can think of who`s been rewarded for demonstrating compassion. You get rewarded for doing stunts, like what DeSantis was doing before him and being cruel. Your thoughts?

JOLLY: Joy, Joe Biden will come to Florida, and there`s only one way that Ron DeSantis should handle that, with grace, with hospitality, and with gratitude for the federal government.

Now, I don`t know if he will do that. And I don`t know how long that will last. But that will be a test of his fitness, as you mentioned, as it was for Chris Christie and for Charlie Crist.

REID: And who paid for it.

JOLLY: I would also say this.

REID: Yes.

JOLLY: I would say this. It`s very important.

Ron DeSantis said to Joe Biden, you alone by the stroke of a pen can ensure FEMA programs 100 -- absorbed 100 percent of the cost. Guess what, Ron DeSantis? You alone by the stroke of a pen can determine whether you spend the legislature`s $18 million to evict migrants from the state of Texas to Martha`s Vineyard...

REID: That`s right.

JOLLY: ... or use that $18 million on Floridians who are displaced tonight.

REID: That`s right, including...

JOLLY: Let`s see if Ron DeSantis will do the right thing.

REID: Including in Orlando, the place that you just stripped of $2 billion because he wanted to punish Disney.

JOLLY: That`s right.

REID: Those are the people you got to help now, Ron DeSantis. Can you do that and still be a Republican nominee in 2024?

Let`s bring in Gina McCarthy. She`s a former EPA administrator and former White House climate adviser in the Biden administration.

The other issue that we have to deal with -- and thank you for being here - - is this question of places like this, Sanibel and these parts of Florida that are on manmade barrier reefs, et cetera, that are really tendentious. Like, they`re in a place that is very vulnerable to storms, to superstorms like this, and even to less onerous storms.

What is the federal government`s role in saying, here`s some money? Do you just build back what you had, and continue to try to have development in places that are so vulnerable?


And my heart goes out to the folks in Florida who are hurting right now and to all the great responders, first responders who are working hard.

Joy, you bring up a really tremendously important point. First of all, this storm jumped from a Category 3 on Tuesday night to, by the end of the day, on Wednesday, it was nearing a Category 5. This is the kind of disaster that we have been predicting for a long time that relates to the issue of climate change.

And this means we have to look at where these challenges are that we`re facing. What are the vulnerable communities that are always hit hardest? Who are they? How do we be helpful to them? But, also, where are we building? What are we thinking about? How do we build and rebuild in a resilient and adaptive way...


MCCARTHY: ... so we recognize the challenge of climate change, and the threat it poses to not just people, but all of these assets that we have and the billions of dollars that we`re going to spend to rebuild?

So the trick is, every time we build now, we have to recognize the threat of climate change. We have to look at areas like the Gulf of Mexico, where the water is warm, and where the shallow water in Tampa Bay actually makes it much more vulnerable to storm surge. This should -- this is not a surprise.

This should be prepared for. In fact, Tampa Bay has been known to be one of the most vulnerable cities in the world as it relates to storm surge threats. So we have to be more prepared.


And that that`s why, when I worked with President Biden, on the bipartisan infrastructure law, when we were spending billions of dollars to reinvest in our infrastructure, he put actual criteria in that said, you have to build to be resilient to climate. Where do you expect to see those challenges? How do we build to make sure that infrastructure lasts?

The same that happened with the Inflation Reduction Act. We have to be smarter, Joy.

REID: Yes.

MCCARTHY: These are these are not the kind of disasters that we can think of it as being unexpected. And we can no longer be unprepared.

REID: Yes. And I have to say this.

For those who understand Florida, developers can`t be in control of these decisions. And they are 100 percent in control of these decisions in Florida, because of all the money they`re putting into politics. A lot has to be rethought, folks.

This is why politics is important. This is why who you elect is important, because this is what government actually does. I know that people don`t get government, and they think government is boring, and they think government is not important.

This is why it`s important, because, when the rubber meets the road, and the water is six feet high in your house, and everything`s destroyed, it is government you have to turn to. And it`s not about stunts. And if your government is doing stunts to own the libs or to hurt people that you don`t like, that isn`t government. This is government.

David Jolly, Gina McCarthy, thank you both.

We will be right back.


REID: That is tonight`s REIDOUT.