Why nuke a hurricane when you can simply pray it away? Speaking at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on Friday, as part of his multi-day visit to the country, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recalled his visit to the Western Wall during a separate trip in 2019.
“The only thing I can tell you” DeSantis said, “is my prayer in 2019 was that we would be spared the upcoming hurricane season in the state of Florida.”
At that time, when [Hurricane Dorian] was on that track, people were saying, ‘well, God must not be listening to the governor because we may be getting rammed here … The storm was headed our way, it slowed down, it turned all the way, 90 degrees and went north and never impacted our coast. I’m chalking it up to the prayer I put in the Western Wall. People can offer whatever rationale they want,” he added.
While DeSantis has yet to declare his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, his visit to Israel is part of the governor’s pseudo-campaign tour exploring his chops for a potential run. His exploits outside of Florida have already drawn criticism from local officials who say the governor has been unresponsive in the face of more current natural disasters in his own state.
Earlier this month, the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale complained that DeSantis had not bothered to contact him despite chaos in Southern Florida caused by catastrophic flooding. At the time, the governor was promoting his book in Ohio.
Whether or not DeSantis believes his prayer was responsible for the weather, his comments echo the last time hurricane-evasion tactics were a subject of American political discourse. In 2019, former President Donald Trump suggested that the solution to catastrophic hurricanes menacing the United States could be to lob a nuclear bomb at them before they made landfall.
In May of last year, sources told Rolling Stone that the former president was deeply concerned that China and other U.S. adversaries were developing a “hurricane gun” that could shoot storms in the direction of the United States. “It was almost too stupid for words,” said a former Trump official, “I did not get the sense he was joking at all.”
While DeSantis was surely relieved that Dorian did not make landfall in their state, and instead ravaged the Bahamas and several Caribbean Islands, under his governorship, Florida has seen disastrous hurricane seasons in the years since. In 2022, Hurricane Ian struck Southern Florida, causing $113 billion in damage and becoming the third most costly Atlantic hurricane in recorded history.