TALLAHASSEE – Hurricane Dorian’s right-hand turn away from Florida’s east coast spared the state extensive damage from the powerful storm.


But it’s also Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s shift in style away from the storm response of his predecessor, now-U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, which is drawing praise from disaster experts as the state enters the heart of a still unfolding hurricane season.


Many say Scott was a top-down manager, while DeSantis is taking advice from county emergency managers and their crews.


“It’s sort of back to the future; this is the way it’s supposed to be,” said Craig Fugate, who was Florida Emergency Management Division director under former Govs. Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, and was Federal Emergency Management Administrator under President Barack Obama.


“This feels more familiar to me than the last eight years,” he added, pointing to the Scott era, which several disaster managers said was marked by sharp directives from the capital, a tactic DeSantis seems intent on ending.


Scott’s most enduring storm moment may have come in 2017, when days before Category 4 Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Keys, he pushed for the evacuation of 6.5 million Floridians, urging them on television to “go now.”


It resulted in chaos on the roadways, made worse when the storm shifted.


By contrast, with Dorian strengthening into one of the most powerful hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean – and barreling toward the Florida coast – DeSantis was a calm, yet detail-focused presence at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.


Providing televised briefings twice daily, DeSantis steered clear of pushing for early evacuations from the wide swaths of Florida considered in the storm’s potential path. He said he was listening to local emergency managers, taking their advice.


“I can sit here and just say whatever I want, but if the local folks aren’t bought into it, I don’t think it’ll be effective,” DeSantis said. “I’d much rather work with (county emergency managers) and come to a solution... and all be unified on that so we have a coherent message, rather than kind of be at loggerheads with folks.”


DeSantis also allowed reporters to monitor daily conference calls among disaster managers, internal briefings occasionally containing new developments. These calls had been traditionally open to the media – until the Scott administration shut them down.


“It seemed like for the last eight years, there was a different playbook,” Fugate said.


Chris Hartline, a Senate spokesman for Scott, said that when his boss was governor, evacuations also were ordered on the local level. Scott only stepped in to order evacuations, himself, before Hurricane Irma from some cities near Lake Okeechobee at risk of flooding.


Scott also regularly reached out to county disaster managers, Hartline said.


“Every storm is different and every response is different,” he said, acknowledging that with evacuations, “Scott was certainly vocal in urging Floridians to heed those warnings.”


“Ahead of Dorian, he joined Gov. DeSantis in urging Floridians to listen to state and local officials and heed evacuation orders. All of Florida’s federal, state and local leaders are laser-focused on keeping every Florida family safe,” Hartline added.


Palm Beach County Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson said, “every administration has its own personality, its own fingerprint. They’re different.”


“But overall, I think the communication with both administrations was excellent,” Johnson said, adding: “Every disaster is different and it’s hard to compare and contrast. But things went very well this time.”


But Volusia County Emergency Management Director Jim Judge said, “I’m a big Gov. DeSantis fan.”


“We did have some change that was very necessary in the state Emergency Management office, so we’re happy with that... and they’ve done a good job, with several conference calls a day that were very important,” Judge said, rating the state's response "an A-plus.”


Judge said he was happy that DeSantis replaced Scott’s most recent Emergency Management Director Wes Maul with Jared Moskowitz, a former Democratic state House member from Broward County, who had been general counsel and business development vice-president for Ashbritt Environmental, a national disaster recovery firm.


Maul had been Scott’s travel aide, before spending more than a year as the Emergency Management Division’s chief-of-staff. He became the state’s top disaster responder right as the 2017 hurricane season began, bringing with it Irma followed by the destructive Hurricane Michael, which devastated parts of the Florida Panhandle last year.


“He had no experience. They tried to sell him as experienced. And you have a lot of experienced emergency managers who knew better,” Judge said.


DeSantis, who served three terms in Congress, also had first-hand experience with Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which hit his district south of Jacksonville especially hard. During EOC briefings, the governor often cited the storm and lessons he learned about coordinating a state, federal and local response.


In the end, it also helps DeSantis that Hurricane Dorian effectively missed the state.


At what he said would be his last EOC briefing on Dorian on Thursday, DeSantis called the storm “a close call for us.”


He added that emergency planning for a hurricane is fine and needed, “but there’s nothing like the real thing.”