MIAMI — The morning after Hurricane Ian slammed into Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis shared the podium at his news briefing with two people: his emergency management director and his wife, Casey, who promoted a state disaster relief fund that was seeking donations for storm victims and recovery efforts. Twelve hours and two more public appearances later, Ms. DeSantis announced that the fund had already raised more than $10 million.
“We are going to make a big difference to help send resources immediately to those people who need them most,” she said on Sept. 29, rattling off thank-yous to Amazon, Walmart and more than a dozen other major corporations inside and outside the state — and to the quarterback Tom Brady, who plugged the fund on Twitter.
Since then, Ms. DeSantis has remained in the spotlight, often speaking alongside her husband, a Republican and likely presidential hopeful who is up for re-election next month, in the aftermath of the storm. The couple joined President Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, in Fort Myers on Wednesday as the Bidens surveyed the catastrophic damage from the Category 4 storm.
Volunteer Florida, a tax-exempt state commission focused on community service projects, Ms. DeSantis, 42, has become the face of Florida’s efforts to collect charitable donations in Ian’s wake. Shortly after the storm struck on Sept. 28, the governor’s office announced that Ms. DeSantis had “activated” the commission’s disaster relief fund. While Florida is also seeking significant help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mr. DeSantis has emphasized the importance of private donations.
a tweet on Wednesday, Florida’s Republican lieutenant governor said that the state’s response to Ian had been “historic” in part because of “@CaseyDeSantis’ Disaster Fund.”
The Aftermath of Hurricane Ian
“We’ve now mobilized private charities with a lot of money — and growing — to help people in really tough circumstances,” Mr. DeSantis said on Wednesday, thanking his wife, who stood a few steps away, before he introduced the president.
Before Ian, Ms. DeSantis, a former television news reporter and Golf Channel host, may have been less known outside of Florida. But she has played a starring role in her husband’s career as governor, from narrating a cheeky 2018 primary television ad in which he urged their toddler to “build the wall,” to participating in personnel interviews as he hired people to work in his administration, to keeping — at least for a time — an office in the governor’s suite at the State Capitol. The governor’s office did not respond to questions about her presence or staff there now.