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Civilians furious as relief operations paused while Governor Ron DeSantis toured hard-hit Arcadia

Gov. Ron DeSantis touring Arcadia.
Governor tours Arcadia
Posted at 6:21 PM, Oct 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 13:15:35-04

ARCADIA, Fla. — In hard-hit Arcadia, Good Samaritans have made supply run after supply run for days.

Leslie and Justin Nelson used their boat to ferry food, water, medicine, diapers, and anything else people needed that couldn't get to staging areas. But their routine was interrupted Sunday afternoon for several hours well before Mr. DeSantis was even in the area.

"We are picking up supplies there from the National Guard and our local agencies, and we are running them to First Bunker on 70 west and 72 because all the major roads to get to those places are either flooded or caved in," Leslie Nelson said.

Leslie is the assistant principal at West Elementary School and said she won't let the community where she was born and raised down.

The Nelsons took us on one of their supply runs. We departed from the west side of the Peace River Bridge and went east into Arcadia.

In the water, we saw homes with water over the roof and the top of a red truck submerged in the Arcadia Peace River Campground.

At one point, we were so close to overhead power lines we ducked. We were low enough to clear them, but if you reached your hand up as high as possible, you were only inches from the lines.

"It's not anything they wouldn't have done for us if they were mobile, too; that's the kind of community we are," Leslie said.

Leslie Nelson.png
Leslie Nelson

When asked if she felt obligated to take the risk, Leslie said, "absolutely."

"It breaks my heart," she continued. "It's devastating, but the good thing is, I know what kind of community we live in, and we'll be ok. We always stick together and help each other out, and we'll figure it out."

Their relief efforts were put on hold as Governor Ron DeSantis toured the area, frustrating people ferrying supplies back and forth.

Despite the pause in civilian relief, efforts were never slowed on SR70 right outside of Arcadia.

The Florida National Guard was staged feet from the flood waters, giving out MREs, water, and bags of self-care products.

"Our mission is mainly just getting food and water to the civilians in Arcadia," First Lieutenant Brandon Gagnon said. "We will be here as long as needed until we are told to go home."

Nelson continued her runs as long as she could and said she would be here tomorrow and the days after.