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Miami's politicians navigate Hurricane Irma, for better or worse



South Florida’s mayors handled their business in different ways Thursday as Hurricane Irma inched closer.

From the county’s emergency operations center in Doral, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez expanded evacuation orders for tens of thousands of residents. On Miami Beach, Philip Levine gave cable news interviews warning about the deadly consequences of a “nuclear” storm. And in an airport in Buenos Aires, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado waited for a return flight to South Florida after leaving for business in Argentina over the weekend rather than waiting out a major storm with an uncertain path.

In a region where hurricanes are a constant threat, the delicate dance around preparing for a storm and recovering afterward has been done by politicians for decades. But throw in the potential for catastrophic damage — and deliver the hurricane to South Florida’s doorstep late during a local election year — and every decision becomes magnified as politicos hold press conferences, court voters with toilet paper and canned goods, and make what could literally be life-or-death decisions.

Make the right moves and look like a leader. Make the wrong moves and open yourself up to endless criticism.

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