Jeb Bush is really good at handling hurricanes

Jeb Bush at a Florida airport damaged by Hurricane Charley in 2004
(Image credit: Stephen Hayford/Pool/Getty Images)

You've got to hand it to Jeb Bush: The man knows how to weather a storm. And not just political storms, but the scarier kind, too.

In 2004 and 2005, during Bush's tenure as governor, Florida weathered two of the nastiest hurricane seasons ever recorded. In 2005 in particular, while his older brother's reputation took a major beating for mishandling Katrina, Jeb was dealing with what would eventually be a 15-hurricane season in Florida.

And here's the thing: He handled it well.

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A review of e-mails Bush sent in 2004 and 2005 shows how closely he was tracking storms and the distribution of aid in their aftermath. Meteorologists from the National Hurricane Center sent regular forecast updates. Highway officials e-mailed him asking to suspend tolls to ease congestion as residents evacuated. Priests asked for help with food banks. Hundreds of Floridians sent unsolicited advice and criticism.When a man e-mailed Bush complaining about impassable roads in Marion County, Fla., he wrote back: "I am on the case. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I am so sorry for the massive inconvinience [sic]." He copied [Craig] Fugate and other top aides to alert them of the problem.“How we doing on tarps?” Bush asked Fugate in an e-mail on Sept. 20, 2004. Hurricane Ivan had made landfall just four days before and was about to hit the state again. Hurricane Jeanne was four days away. [The Washington Post]

Bush has even silenced his critics over how well he handled the disasters. Fugate, Jeb Bush's emergency management chief, was actually hired by Barack Obama for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And while it's kind of a backhanded compliment, even former Democratic Florida House minority leader Dan Gelber said of Bush's response to hurricanes, "I have a lot of unflattering things to say about Jeb, but I have not criticized him for that. He did a good job."

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