By GRACE WINFIELD
Hurricane Harvey is the first natural disaster to test Donald Trump’s presidency. The category four storm devastated and displaced thousands of Texans over the past week. As a result of the storm’s extremely heavy rainfall, southern Texas has experienced devastating floods. Houston being the most affected. About 33 trillion gallons of rain have been dumped along the Gulf Coast.
In the event of a natural disaster such as this, reassurance is the quickest form of comfort to be sought and it is hard to imagine better words of encouragement coming from someone other than our own nation’s president. However, the words weren’t spoken out loud and they were far from comforting.
In the days leading up to the storm, state and city governments warned the people of Texas of the dangers soon to arrive and issued mandatory evacuations. “Major rescue operations on their way,” Trump tweeted on Aug. 27, marking his first Twitter acknowledgement of the storm.
Previously on Aug. 25, as he entered the White House he was asked if he had a message for the people of Texas. Trump responded, “Good luck to everybody.”
According to data from the Texas Division of Emergency Management, 42,399 people had sought refuge in shelters on the first of this month. A massive number of 185,149 of homes are estimated to be damaged or destroyed. Harvey has claimed about 50 deaths so far, with officials expecting more as they continue their search to find those who are stranded.
President Trump tweeted that his office would “remain fully engaged [with] open lines of communication.” Trump also stated that he was in contact with the governors of Texas and Louisiana.
“I have spoken [with] @GovAbbot of Texas and @LouisianaGov Edwards,” said President Trump. “Closely monitoring #HurricaneHarvey developments & here to assist as needed.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott showed his appreciation to President Trump for his help in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s damage in Houston. He applauded his response and said it was, “extremely professional, very helpful.”
However, not all are as satisfied as Governor Abbott.
Nearly a day after Harvey’s first hit, he tweeted, “With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL… Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.” This was a statement clearly irrelevant to the devastation in Texas.
While visiting Corpus Christi, Trump said at a press conference, “We will get through this. We will come out stronger. And believe me, we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before. The rebuilding will begin and in the end it will be something very special.”
Trump also said, “Thank you everybody, What a crowd! What a turnout!” to locals following the speech, further demonstrating his keen interest in ratings and numbers, instead of being genuinely concerned about what they are supporting.
His general lack of sympathy is concerning and it raises fundamental questions in people’s minds about how in touch he truly is with the chaos being faced by the people in Texas. By many, his words can be described as forced and shallow, his impetuosity never failing to reveal itself.
Good luck, Texas.