It would also help if the President was not delusional:Thank you to everyone at @FEMA HQ for today’s briefing on preparations for the upcoming hurricane season. Disaster response and recovery is best achieved when it’s federally supported, state managed, and locally executed – this is the successful model we will continue to build. https://t.co/xpm7IRiZwn— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2018
Trump was on a conference call with state and federal leaders in preparation for another dreadful hurricane season. During the call, Trump thanked the Coast Guard for its service in helping save 16,000 people after Harvey, Hurricane Maria and other storms. The Coast Guard doesn’t “get enough credit,” Trump said.Really wondering what color the sky is on his planet. Let's take it piece by piece: "Sixteen thousand people"? As usual, the real number is not big enough, Trump has to increase it by 50%. The Coast Guard itself (you know, a government agency) released this number last September:
"Sixteen thousand people, many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane,” Trump said. “That didn't work out too well.”
During their response to Hurricane Harvey, Coast Guard men and women rescued 11,022 people and 1,384 pets.Which, frankly, is plenty enough to be proud of, and good on the Coast Guard. Everyone in Texas is grateful for their efforts.
Then: "...many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is."
Well, could be because Hurricane Harvey stretched from Rockport to Beaumont, and covered the Texas coast inland to San Antonio and Austin. It looked like this:
Or because it flooded the fourth largest city in the country? And then we get to the "WTF?" portion: "People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane."
Nobody knows what he's talking about:The people who took their boats into the water during Harvey were not storm-watchers. They were heroes who went toward danger to rescue friends, neighbors, strangers. Texans helping Texans in a time of desperate need. #txlege https://t.co/6jQ9YElAAT— Joe Straus (@SpeakerStraus) June 7, 2018
Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said he wasn’t aware of the specific context of Trump’s quotes but praised the many Houstonians who used their own equipment to rescue trapped neighbors.
“During Harvey, certainly the community — those who were able to get out and help their neighbors — that was really a game-changer for us in meeting the extraordinary demand for evacuations,” he said. “Without the assistance of private citizens in their own boats… we would have had a more difficult time in getting to everybody that needed assistance.”
The comments perplexed a wide range of professional first responders and civilians who rushed into the flood waters to help their neighbors.
“I can only imagine he’s not talking about Houston,” said Lancton. “The reality is, I did not experience people sitting out in Brays Bayou waiting for the storm to come in… All the boats I saw out there were ones trying to help.”
Francisco Sanchez, spokesman for Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, said the U.S. Coast Guard was a “top-notch” partner with a long history helping out in disasters in Harris County. It rose to the occasion during Harvey, he said.
“They were just beyond heroic in what they did,” he said. “They certainly -- here in Harris County -- are not underappreciated. they are part and parcel of any response that might involve maritime, ports, or even inland search and rescue operations.”
Sanchez also echoed comments about how civilians had helped Houston and Harris County overcome Harvey’s onslaught.
“I’m not aware of anybody in Harris County on a boat in the midst of the storm and its aftermath as a matter of leisure or entertainment,” he said. “The response from our community members and folks at the Cajun Navy that brought their boats, put them in the water to rescue people and to help, filled the gap that we couldn’t simply because of size and scope of what Hurricane Harvey was doing to our community."
Taylor Fontenot was working as a bartender when Hurricane Harvey hit. Fontenot spent long days with other members of the Cajun Navy rescuing resident after resident. Many of the volunteers liquidated their financial resources in the rescue efforts.
By the end of the storm, members of the Cajun Navy and other civilian volunteer organizations had rescued 35,000 people, he said.
Fontenot, of Sugar Land, said he didn’t take the president’s comments personally, but said he'd heard from many other rescuers and people who had been victimized by the storm.
“For it to be looked lightly on or diminished, or seen as a joke, it’s kind of a slap in the face,” he said.
Sanchez said first responders coordinated closely with civilians to direct them to areas that needed help. Authorities are trying to formalize a similar approach pairing up first responders and civilians who want to help in future storms, he said.
When asked by the Houston Chronicle to confirm if Texans were out on boats gawking at the storm, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he had “no information one way or another about that.”And finally: “That didn't work out too well.”
Houstonians, at least, are justifiably proud of their efforts to help each other during and after the Hurricane. The Coast Guard was important, but hundreds of people, maybe thousands, brought out anything that would float and ferried people out of flooded neighborhoods to transport and higher ground. I know some of those people. It worked out brilliantly well.
I know running against Trump is not the surest method to win office, but tying him like an albatross around the necks of the Texas GOP is an opportunity not to be missed.