As the nation readies itself to deal with Hurricane Harvey, the ghost of Hurricane Katrina hangs in the air. Many question whether President Trump will repeat George Bush’s mistakes, which turned a natural disaster into a humanitarian nightmare. Unfortunately, Trump’s message to Texans before going on vacation did not inspire hope in many Americans.
Trump left for his vacation at Camp David, the presidential retreat, on Friday. When asked if he had any words for the people of Texas, Trump replied, “Good luck. They’re gonna be safe.” At the present moment, a state of emergency has been declared in more than 30 Texan counties, and coastal areas are being evacuated. These areas are expected to get up to 35 inches of rain, as well as a life-threatening storm surge.
According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump has been “fully briefed” on the Harvey situation. And on Friday night, Trump signed a disaster proclamation, which would give federal aid to Texas. He’s heading to Texas this week.
After his awkward early response, Trump has been using his Twitter account to praise the efforts of the first responders.
On the morning of August 26th, he took to Twitter to congratulate FEMA Director Brock Long on a job well done.
He did not discuss the fact that he may soon cut funding to FEMA by $667 million.
Even though it’s still early in the disaster relief efforts, experts are already comparing Trump’s response to Bush’s during Katrina.
Dr. Samantha Montano, an expert on disaster preparedness, says that it’s “too late” for preventative effort, but that Trump has done well to sign over the emergency funds to Texas.
She also mentions that Trump, unlike Bush, appointed a FEMA director who actually has expertise in managing disasters.
But some worry that the upbeat tone of his tweets means that he considers Hurricane Harvey a battle already won, with comparisons made to George Bush’s premature praise to the “heckuva job” that FEMA director Mike Brown was doing. Others are irritated that he is still taking jabs at political rivals in the middle of a natural disaster.
Trump’s material response to Harvey in the weeks and months after the flooding will matter more than a carelessly-worded tweet. Hopefully, his administration has learned from Bush’s mistakes and will be able to offer a careful, measured response effort.