Trump’s Failures On Hurricanes, Storms, And Flooding

During his presidency, Donald Trump failed in both the preparation and disaster response to hurricanes, storms, and flooding and actively worsened conditions for Americans impacted by such weather events. 

He failed to adequately prepare the country for hurricanes by leaving disaster response positions open months into his term. After Trump’s FEMA botched the response to Hurricane Maria, Trump downplayed the suffering, claiming it was not a “real catastrophe like Katrina.” After Hurricane Harvey took 88 lives and caused $130 billion in damage in Texas, Trump joked that the state made a “fortune.” 

Ahead of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Trump altered a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map of the storm’s trajectory to suggest that Alabama would be hit. After the National Weather Service corrected Trump’s claim, he continued to insist that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama. Hurricane Dorian did not hit Alabama.

Trump also rolled back critical flood protections that protected Americans from rising sea levels. During Trump’s term, the U.S. saw five billion-dollar flooding events that caused $28.5 billion in damages and killed 37 people. The construction of Trump’s border wall also exacerbated flooding and threatened wildlife.

Trump Failed To Prepare The Country For Disasters

2017: Trump’s Administration Was Unprepared For Disaster Response With Key Positions Unfilled Months Into His Term 

Five Months Into Trump’s Presidency, FEMA And NOAA Did Not Have Administrators. According to NPR, “This year, key federal agencies that state and local governments and the public depend on still don’t have leaders. Nearly five months after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, NOAA, the agency that oversees the government’s weather forecasting, is still without an administrator, as is the agency that responds to disasters, FEMA.” [NPR, 6/1/17]

Ahead Of A “Potentially Record-Breaking” Hurricane Season, Trump Imposed A Government-Wide Hiring Freeze That Resulted In 216 Vacant Positions At The National Weather Service. According to the Washington Post, “Ahead of what would turn out to be a potentially record-breaking hurricane season, the National Weather Service had 216 vacant positions it could not fill due to a governmentwide hiring freeze imposed by the Trump administration, according to a recently released document.” [Washington Post, 9/27/17]

The National Hurricane Center Went Without A Leader Under Trump Longer Than Under Any Other President. According to the Washington Post, “The National Hurricane Center, a Weather Service division, has been led by an acting director since May. An acting career official is heading NOAA until President Trump nominates and the Senate confirms a permanent replacement. Trump has waited longer than any other president to fill that role.” [Washington Post, 9/27/17]

2017: Puerto Ricans Suffered After Hurricane Maria, While Trump Botched Relief Efforts And Downplayed The Damage

Trump Failed To Act During The Aftermath Of Hurricane Maria 

2017: Hurricane Maria Caused Immense Damage In Puerto Rico And Resulted In Thousands Of Deaths

September 20, 2017: Hurricane Maria Made Landfall In Puerto Rico Causing Immense Damage To The U.S. Territory. According to NPR, “After devastating parts of the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico early Wednesday as a Category 4 storm packing powerful sustained winds of 155 mph, according to the hurricane center. It is the strongest storm to have hit the U.S. territory in decades.” [NPR, 9/20/17]

The Damage Caused By Hurricane Maria Was Long-Term And Devastating

Puerto Rico Incurred Roughly $100 Billion In Damages From Hurricane Maria. According to NBC New York, “On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island of Puerto Rico wreaking havoc across its terrain to such great proportions that very few storms throughout United States history provoked the level of widespread destruction and disorganization experienced during and in the aftermath of Maria. So severe was the impact of the massive storm that the island incurred roughly $100 billion in damages and the effects are still being felt a year later.” [NBC New York, 9/19/18]

It Took Almost One Year For Power To Be Restored To The Entire Island. According to NBC New York, “The government-owned electric power company in Puerto Rico announced Tuesday that it officially restored power to the entire island — almost a year after the power grid was severely impacted by Hurricane Maria. According to a tweet by the Puerto Rico Power Authority, or Autoridad de Energia Electrica (AEE) as it is known is Spanish, the utility restored power to its final client in Bo Real Anon in the municipality of Ponce. This final power restoration marks an uphill climb for residents of the island, who faced the longest recorded power outage in United States history — the second worst world-wide.” [NBC New York, 9/19/18]

U.S. Census Bureau: 130,000 Left Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria, Nearly 4 Percent Of The Island’s Population. According to CNN, “An estimated 130,000 people — almost 4% of the population — left the island of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, according to data released Wednesday by the US Census Bureau. ‘It’s a really large number — and it’s a number that’s well above what we’ve seen in the past,’ Alexis Santos, a demographer a Penn State University, said of the population decrease. ‘Here, what you’re looking at is double — double the displacement we would have expected’ in a normal year.” [CNN, 12/19/18]

Studies Attributed Thousands Of Excess Deaths To The Slow Recovery After Hurricane Maria 

A George Washington University Study Revealed That Hurricane Maria Led To A Spike In Mortality, With An Estimated 2,975 Excess Deaths Six Months After The Storm Made Landfall, Attributing Them To Power Outages, Water Insecurity, And Inadequate Infrastructure. According to the Washington Post, “Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico led to a spike in mortality across the U.S. territory, with an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in the six months after the storm made landfall in September 2017, according to a sweeping report from George Washington University released Tuesday. The government of Puerto Rico on Tuesday embraced the GWU estimate as the official death toll, ranking Maria among the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history […] The spike in mortality came as the territory dealt with widespread and lengthy power outages, a lack of access to adequate health care, water insecurity and diseases related to the crisis.” [Washington Post, 8/28/18]

A Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health Study Estimated That There Had Been Between 800 And 8,500 Excess Deaths Related To Hurricane Maria. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “After Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico in September 2017, officials initially said that there had been only 16-storm related deaths. But Harvard Chan researchers, along with colleagues in Puerto Rico, estimated that there had actually been between 800 and 8,500 excess deaths related to the hurricane through the end of December 2017.” [Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Accessed 2/28/20]

Trump Disputed Official Death Statistics And Alleged That Democrats Were Inflating The Death Toll

Trump Disputed Official Findings That Nearly 3,000 People Died In Puerto Rico. According to the BBC, “US President Donald Trump is disputing official findings that nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of last year’s storms. ‘3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,’ Mr Trump wrote on Twitter, without offering evidence for the claim. He accused Democrats of inflating the official death toll to ‘make me look as bad as possible.’ The official figure was released last month after an independent study. On Thursday, Mr Trump tweeted that Democrats were attacking him ‘when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.’” [BBC, 9/13/18]

Trump Claimed That The Democrats Were Inflating The Death Toll To “Make Me Look As Bad As Possible.” According to BBC, “US President Donald Trump is disputing official findings that nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of last year’s storms. ‘3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,’ Mr Trump wrote on Twitter, without offering evidence for the claim. He accused Democrats of inflating the official death toll to ‘make me look as bad as possible.’ The official figure was released last month after an independent study. On Thursday, Mr Trump tweeted that Democrats were attacking him ‘when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.’” [BBC, 9/13/18]

A White House Spokesperson Said Trump Was Responding To “A Constant Stream Of Misinformation And False Accusations”

White House Spokesman Hogan Gidley: Trump’s Claims Were In Response To The “Liberal Media And The San Juan Mayor.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “Nearly 12 hours after Mr. Trump’s tweets, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley issued a statement praising the administration’s ‘unprecedented support’ for Puerto Rico. Mr. Gidley said the president’s tweets were ‘responding to the liberal media and the San Juan mayor, who sadly have tried to exploit the devastation by pushing out a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations.’” [Wall Street Journal, 9/13/18]

Gidley: The Liberal Democrats And The San Juan Mayor “Have Tried To Exploit The Devastation By Pushing Out A Constant Stream Of Misinformation And False Accusations.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “Nearly 12 hours after Mr. Trump’s tweets, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley issued a statement praising the administration’s ‘unprecedented support’ for Puerto Rico. Mr. Gidley said the president’s tweets were ‘responding to the liberal media and the San Juan mayor, who sadly have tried to exploit the devastation by pushing out a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations.’” [Wall Street Journal, 9/13/18]

The Trump Administration Failed To Help Puerto Rico Quickly 

Trump Claimed That Puerto Rico’s Relief Was Complicated By “Big Water, Ocean Water”

During A Speech On His Tax Plan, Trump Claimed That Puerto Rico’s Disaster Relief Was Complicated By “Big Water, Ocean Water.” According to the Hill, “President Trump on Friday said the disaster relief effort in Puerto Rico is complicated because it is ‘surrounded by water.’ ‘This is an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water,’ the president said during a speech in Washington on his tax plan. The comments come as Trump has come under fire for his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria. Trump has repeatedly cited Puerto Rico’s location as a hurdle toward a speedier recovery. The storm devastated much of the island and left many of its citizens without food, water and electricity. Critics have said the administration provided quicker and more effective disaster relief to Texas, Florida and other mainland states hit by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, a charge officials deny.” [The Hill, 9/29/17]

Records Revealed That The Trump Administration Exerted More Effort Towards Disaster Relief In Texas Compared To Puerto Rico After Maria

Government Records Revealed That The Trump Administration Exerted More Effort Towards Disaster Relief In Texas Compared To Those In Puerto Rico. According to Politico, “No two hurricanes are alike, and Harvey and Maria were vastly different storms that struck areas with vastly different financial, geographic and political situations. But a comparison of government statistics relating to the two recovery efforts strongly supports the views of disaster-recovery experts that FEMA and the Trump administration exerted a faster, and initially greater, effort in Texas, even though the damage in Puerto Rico exceeded that in Houston.” [Politico, 3/27/18]

Nine Days After Hurricane Harvey, FEMA Approved $141.8 Million In Assistance, Compared To Just $6.2 Million In Assistance For Hurricane Maria Victims. According to Politico, “Nine days after the respective hurricanes, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance to Harvey victims, versus just $6.2 million for Maria victims.” [Politico, 3/27/18]

FEMA Delivered Few Supplies To Puerto Rico In The First Nine Days Following Maria And Failed To Approve Permanent Disaster Relief Work In Puerto Rico In A Timely Manner. According to Politico, “During the first nine days after Harvey, FEMA provided 5.1 million meals, 4.5 million liters of water and over 20,000 tarps to Houston; but in the same period, it delivered just 1.6 million meals, 2.8 million liters of water and roughly 5,000 tarps to Puerto Rico […] It took just 10 days for FEMA to approve permanent disaster work for Texas, compared with 43 days for Puerto Rico.” [Politico, 3/27/18]

It Took Weeks For FEMA And The Defense Department To Increase Forces In Puerto Rico Even Though The Airports And Ports Were Open. According to Politico, “But it still took weeks for FEMA and the Department of Defense to increase their forces in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, even though the main airports and ports were opened within a few days. Disaster-recovery experts also faulted the government for failing to direct the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and other ships, which have their own fleets of helicopters and were deployed off the coast for Florida to help with Hurricane Irma in early September, to help with the response efforts to Hurricane Maria. The Lincoln began to position itself to help with Irma two days before the storm hit Florida. FEMA never requested that the Department of Defense send the Lincoln to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” [Politico, 3/27/20]

Trump Drug His Feet On Issuing A Jones Act Waiver To Get Relief To Puerto Rico

September 26, 2017: Trump Failed To Waive Shipping Restriction To Aid Puerto Rico’s Recovery Efforts 

September 26, 2017: The Trump Administration Failed To Waive Shipping Restrictions To Help Get Fuel And Supplies To Puerto Rico. According to Reuters, “The Trump administration on Tuesday said there was no need to waive shipping restrictions to help get fuel and supplies to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, because it would do nothing to address the island’s main impediment to shipping, damaged ports. The Jones Act limits shipping between coasts to U.S. flagged vessels. However, in the wake of brutal storms, the government has occasionally issued temporary waivers to allow the use of cheaper, tax free or more readily available foreign-flagged ships. The Department of Homeland Security, which waived the act after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, did not agree an exemption would help this time.” [Reuters, 9/26/17]

Two Days Later, Trump Changed His Mind And Waived The Jones Act 

September 28, 2017: Trump Waived The Jones Act For Puerto Rico, Easing Hurricane Aid Shipments. According to the New York Times, “The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would temporarily waive a century-old shipping law for Puerto Rico that officials there said was hindering disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Maria. The waiver of the law, known as the Jones Act, comes as federal and local officials report more supplies trickling onto the increasingly desperate island. But the Trump administration remains under pressure to step up the recovery effort.” [New York Times, 9/28/17

Trump Refused To Give Puerto Rico Necessary Relief Money Until 2019

June 6, 2019: Trump Signed A $19 Billion Disaster Relief Bill After A Long Delay

June 6, 2019: Trump Signed $19 Billion Disaster Relief Bill After A Long Delay, Sending Billions In Aid To Puerto Rico And Several Other States Battered By Storms. According to CNBC, “President Donald Trump said he signed a long-awaited $19 billion disaster relief bill on Thursday to give aid to states and territories ravaged by storms. The delayed legislation will send funds to the hurricane-battered island of Puerto Rico and to states damaged by hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and earthquakes. The recipients include California, Florida, Georgia and Iowa.” [CNBC, 6/6/19]

Trump Claimed That “Puerto Rico Should Love President Trump” After He Signed The Bill Even Though Trump Initially Did Not Want To Give More Relief Funds To The Territory. According to CNBC, “‘Just signed Disaster Aid Bill to help Americans who have been hit by recent catastrophic storms,’ Trump tweeted on Thursday along with a photo of him holding a signed document. ‘So important for our GREAT American farmers and ranchers.’ He also contended that ‘Puerto Rico should love President Trump.’ The president claimed the island ‘would have been shut out’ without him. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017. The storm knocked out power for 1.5 million people and it took 11 months to restore it. The island’s government estimated the hurricane caused nearly 3,000 deaths. Trump’s response to the devastation on the island has been widely criticized. Congress failed to approve the aid money quickly in no small part because Trump did not want to give more relief funds to the U.S. territory.” [CNBC, 6/6/19]

Trump Privately Vented About Federal Aid To Puerto Rico

Trump Sought To Find Ways To Limit Federal Support From Going To Puerto Rico And A Senior Administration Official Claimed That “He Doesn’t Want Another Single Dollar Going To The Island.” According to the Washington Post, “After initially vowing to reject the food-stamp funding, President Trump has agreed to the emergency request to help Senate Republicans pass a broader disaster-relief package, which may be taken up for a vote this week. But at an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 22, Trump asked top advisers for ways to limit federal support from going to Puerto Rico, believing it is taking money that should be going to the mainland, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the president’s private remarks […] Trump has also privately signaled he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond the food-stamp money, setting up a congressional showdown with Democrats who have pushed for more expansive help for the island. A senior administration official with direct knowledge of the meeting described Trump’s stance: ‘He doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island.’” [Washington Post, 3/25/19]

January 15, 2020: Trump Imposed Severe Restrictions On Aid, Including Blocking Spending On The Island’s Electrical Grid

The Trump Administration Imposed Severe Restrictions On The $16 Billion In Funding Going To Puerto Rico. According to the New York Times, “The Trump administration imposed severe restrictions on Wednesday on billions of dollars in emergency relief to Puerto Rico, including blocking spending on the island’s electrical grid and suspending its $15-an-hour minimum wage for federally funded relief work. The nearly $16 billion in funding, released while Puerto Ricans still sleep on the streets for fear of aftershocks from last week’s earthquake, is part of $20 billion that Congress allocated for disaster recovery and preparation more than a year ago, in response to the commonwealth being hit by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017.” [New York Times, 1/15/20]

Although Puerto Rico Continued To Be Plagued By Rolling Blackouts, Trump Imposed A Restriction That Barred The Territory From Using The Funds On The Electrical Grid. According to the New York Times, “Puerto Rico will be barred from paying its $15-an-hour minimum wage to workers on federally funded projects. And none of the funds can be used on the electrical grid, although the Department of Housing and Urban Development has yet to release nearly $2 billion that was allocated for Puerto Rico’s electrical system. White House officials acknowledged that rolling blackouts continue in Puerto Rico but insisted there was no need for new money […] A congressional aide involved in the issue said the White House and its budget office appeared to have chosen restrictions that would be politically difficult for Puerto Rican officials to carry out. That way, the aide suggested, the federal government would not appear responsible for withholding the aid.” [New York Times, 1/15/20]

Congress Approved Separate Funds For The Electrical Grid That Had Not Been Allocated. According to the New York Times, “The restriction relating to the electrical grid may just be a practical one: Congress has already appropriated a separate tranche of money specifically for the electrical grid, though it has yet to be allocated.” [New York Times, 1/15/20]

Trump’s Interior Secretary Had Ties To The Power Company That Held A $300 Million Contract With The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority

Washington Post: A Power Company With “Just Two Full-Time Employees” That Was Based Out Of Ryan Zinke’s Hometown Of Whitefish, Montana “Signed A $300 Million Contract With The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.” According to the Washington Post, “For the sprawling effort to restore Puerto Rico’s crippled electrical grid, the territory’s state-owned utility has turned to a two-year-old company from Montana that had just two full-time employees on the day Hurricane Maria made landfall. The company, Whitefish Energy, said last week that it had signed a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to repair and reconstruct large portions of the island’s electrical infrastructure. The contract is the biggest yet issued in the troubled relief effort. […] Whitefish Energy is based in Whitefish, Mont., the home town of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.” [Washington Post, 10/23/17]

Zinke’s Office Said He Had No Role In Whitefish Securing The Contract

Zinke’s Office Said He Had No Role In Whitefish Securing The Contract. According to the Washington Post, “Whitefish Energy is based in Whitefish, Mont., the home town of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Its chief executive, Andy Techmanski, and Zinke acknowledge knowing one another — but only, Zinke’s office said in an email, because Whitefish is a small town where ‘everybody knows everybody.’ One of Zinke’s sons ‘joined a friend who worked a summer job’ at one of Techmanski’s construction sites, the email said. Whitefish said he worked as a ‘flagger.’ Zinke’s office said he had no role in Whitefish securing the contract for work in Puerto Rico. Techmanski also said Zinke was not involved.” [Washington Post, 10/23/17]

Zinke: “I Welcome All Investigations Into The Allegations.” According to a tweet by Secretary Ryan Zinke accessed via the Wayback Machine, “I had absolutely nothing to do with Whitefish Energy receiving a contract in Puerto Rico. I welcome all investigations into the allegations[.]” [Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, @SecretaryZinke, 10/27/17]

Whitefish’s Contract Charged High Rates, Including $227 Per Hour For Linemen

NPR: Whitefish’s Contract Showed “Pricey” Labor Rates Of $240 Per Hour For Foremen And $227 Per Hour For Linemen. According to NPR, “Much of the controversy that has surrounded the contract has focused on the high rates Whitefish is charging for labor. The contract shows those labor rates are pricey indeed: $240 an hour for a general foreman and $227 for a lineman.” [NPR, 10/27/17]

The Contract Included Per Diems Of $80 Per Day For Food And $332 Per Day For Lodging. According to NPR, “The per diems are also expensive: almost $80 a day for meals, and $332 a day for lodging.” [NPR, 10/27/17]

NPR: “Employee Flights Are Billed At $1,000 Each Way.” According to NPR, “Employee flights are billed at $1,000 each way.” [NPR, 10/27/17]

Trump’s FEMA Botched The Relief Effort For Hurricane Maria 

FEMA Deployed Unqualified Workers To Puerto Rico 

GAO Report Revealed That An Overwhelmed FEMA Deployed “Bottom Of The Barrel” Staff To Puerto Rico. According to CNN, “The Federal Emergency Management Agency was so overwhelmed with other storms by the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year that more than half of the workers it was deploying to disasters were known to be unqualified for the jobs they were doing in the field […] ‘By the time Maria hit Puerto Rico, they were down to the bottom of the barrel,’ Chris Currie, director of emergency management issues at the GAO told reporters in a conference call Tuesday. ‘They were having a struggle getting people there — and not just people, but qualified people.’ ‘The effect of this,’ Currie added, ‘is that during the response phase — and especially during recovery — these are the folks that are working with the territory and the state governments — and they’re not fully trained on FEMA’s programs.’” [CNN, 9/4/18]

FEMA Gave A $156 Million Contract To An Entrepreneur With No Experience In Disaster Relief To Provide 30 Million Meals, She Delivered 50,000

FEMA Gave An Entrepreneur With No Experience In Disaster Relief And At Least Five Canceled Government Contracts A $156 Million Contract To Provide 30 Million Meals To Puerto Rico. According to the New York Times, “The mission for the Federal Emergency Management Agency was clear: Hurricane Maria had torn through Puerto Rico, and hungry people needed food. Thirty million meals needed to be delivered as soon as possible. For this huge task, FEMA tapped Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past. FEMA awarded her $156 million for the job, and Ms. Brown, who is the sole owner and employee of her company, Tribute Contracting LLC, set out to find some help.” [New York Times, 2/6/18]

When 18.5 Million Meals Were Due, Brown Had Delivered Only 50,000. According to the New York Times, “By the time 18.5 million meals were due, Tribute had delivered only 50,000. And FEMA inspectors discovered a problem: The food had been packaged separately from the pouches used to heat them. FEMA’s solicitation required ‘self-heating meals.’ ‘Do not ship another meal. Your contract is terminated,’ Carolyn Ward, the FEMA contracting officer who handled Tribute’s agreement, wrote to Ms. Brown in an email dated Oct. 19 that Ms. Brown provided to The New York Times. ‘This is a logistical nightmare.’” [New York Times, 2/6/18]

In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Struggled With Access To Food. According to the New York Times, “FEMA insists no Puerto Ricans missed a meal as a result of the failed agreement with Tribute. FEMA relied on other suppliers that provided ‘ample’ food and water for distribution, said William Booher, an agency spokesman. But there is little doubt that in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans struggled with access to food. The storm shut down ports on an island that imports about 85 percent of its food supply. Farms were flattened. Supermarkets lost electricity and could not find diesel to run their generators. The stores that opened using generator power could not offer much from their understocked shelves. Puerto Ricans depended heavily on emergency aid dispatched by FEMA.” [New York Times, 2/6/18

FEMA Gave A $30 Million Contract For Tarps Which Never Arrived In Puerto Rico

FEMA Awarded Bronze Star LLC A $30 Million Contract To Provide Emergency Tarps And Plastic Sheeting – The Tarps Never Arrived. According to the Guardian, “After Hurricane Maria damaged tens of thousands of homes in Puerto Rico, a newly created Florida company with an unproven record won more than $30m in contracts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency tarps and plastic sheeting for repairs. Bronze Star LLC never delivered those urgently needed supplies, which even months later remain in demand by hurricane victims on the island.” [Guardian, 11/28/17]

Bronze Star LLC, Had An Unproven Record And It Was Not Clear How Thoroughly FEMA Investigated Bronze Star’s Ability To Fulfill The Contracts. According to the Guardian, “It is not clear how thoroughly Fema investigated Bronze Star or its ability to fulfill the contracts. Formed by two brothers in August, Bronze Star had never before won a government contract or delivered tarps or plastic sheeting. The address listed for the business is a single-family home in a residential subdivision in St Cloud, Florida. One of the brothers, Kayon Jones, said manufacturers he contacted before bidding on the contracts assured him they could provide the tarps but later said they could not meet the government’s requirements.” [Guardian, 11/28/17

FEMA Canceled The Bronze Star Contract And Reassigned It. According to the Guardian, “Fema canceled the contracts on 6 November, Jones said. The government notified him and his brother a few days later that it would seek $9.3mi in damages unless they signed a waiver releasing the US from any liability. The brothers agreed […] The day after Fema canceled the Bronze Star contract, it awarded a contract to OSC Solutions Inc for plastic sheeting for Hurricane Maria victims. The West Palm Beach, Florida-based company has roughly two decades of federal contracting experience and has produced such supplies multiple times.” [Guardian, 11/28/17]

FEMA Acknowledged The Contracting Problems Delayed The Delivery Of Tarps To Puerto Rico. According to the Guardian, “The Fema spokesman, Roth, acknowledged the contract problems delayed delivery of tarps to Puerto Rico but said anyone who needs a tarp should now be able to get one.” [Guardian, 11/28/17

Trump’s FEMA Director Declared That The Agency Was Not A First Responder

Brock Long, Trump’s Director Of FEMA, Wrote An Op-Ed Declaring That The Agency Was Not A First Responder. According to a USA Today op-ed by Brock Long, “FEMA is not a first responder; disasters are state managed, locally executed and federally supported. Our role is to support local governments following a disaster only after their capacity to respond has been exceeded.” [USA Today – Op-Ed – Brock Long, 5/31/18]

Trump Diminished Puerto Rico’s Suffering, Claiming Hurricane Maria Was Not A “Real Catastrophe”

September 25, 2017: When Trump Finally Acknowledged The Disaster He Blamed The Damage On Its Debt Crisis

Trump Said Puerto Rico Was “Already Suffering From Broken Infrastructure & Massive Debt.” According to Trump’s Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..” [Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, @realDonaldTrump, 9/25/17]

Trump Said Puerto Rico’s Electrical Grid Was “Old” And “In Terrible Shape.” According to Trump’s Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, “…It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars….” [Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, @realDonaldTrump, 9/25/17]

Trump Claimed Puerto Rico Owed Billions Of Dollars To “Wall Street And The Banks” Which “Must Be Dealt With.” According to Trump’s Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, “…owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA” [Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, @realDonaldTrump, 9/25/17]

October 3, 2017: Two Weeks After Hurricane Maria In A Visit To Puerto Rico, Trump Downplayed The Damage

October 3, 2017: During His Visit To Puerto Rico, Trump Suggested That Hurricane Maria Was Not “A Real Catastrophe Like Katrina.” According to the Huffington Post, “President Donald Trump visited local officials and residents in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, congratulating them and boasting almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria left many of the island’s 3.4 million people without power, water or food. At his first stop, a briefing with federal and local officials, Trump lavishly praised them. He then repeatedly turned to individuals around the table and invited them to offer their own praise — while insisting, ‘It’s not about me.’ When Puerto Rico’s governor told Trump that 16 people so far had been reported dead, the president lauded officials and minimized the hurricane’s damage, suggesting it was not ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina.’” [Huffington Post, 10/3/17]

Trump Congratulated Puerto Rico, Seeming To Boast That Only 16 People Were Reported Dead At The Time

Trump Seemed To Boast About The Fact That Only “16 People Versus Literally Thousands” Had Been Reported Dead In Puerto Rico Following The Hurricane. According to the Huffington Post, “‘Sixteen people versus in the thousands,’ Trump said. ‘You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everyone around this table, and everyone watching, can be very proud of what’s taking place in Puerto Rico.’ While Trump bragged about the official number of dead, the final death toll will likely turn out to be higher. Poor communication services have hindered reporting, and current living conditions on the island could jeopardize more lives, especially those of the sick and the elderly.” [Huffington Post, 10/3/17]

Trump Cracked Jokes About The Cost Of The Storm Damage 

During His Visit To Puerto Rico, Trump Joked About The Cost Of The Storm Damage. According to the Huffington Post, “Trump also appeared to joke about the cost of the storm damage. ‘I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,’ he said.” [Huffington Post, 10/3/17]

Trump Once Again Praised Officials For Doing A “Fantastic Job” And Threw Rolls Of Paper Towels Into The Crowd

Trump Praised Officials For Doing “A Fantastic Job” And Threw Supplies Into Crowds. According to the Huffington Post, “Following the briefing with federal and local officials on Tuesday, Trump visited with storm victims. He again praised officials for doing ‘a fantastic job,’ as people showed him the storm’s damage to their homes, pointing out broken windows and noting power outages. ‘We’re going to help you out,’ he told them. ‘Have a good time.’ During a stop at a church, he threw rolls of paper towels into a crowd.” [Huffington Post, 10/3/17]

2017: Following Hurricane Harvey, Trump Joked About Texas And Said The Storm Was Epic

August 2017: Hurricane Harvey Devastated Texas, Causing At Least 88 Deaths And $125 Billion In Damages

August 25, 2017: Hurricane Harvey Made Landfall In Texas As A Category 4 Storm. According to ABC News, “Five hours after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas around 10 p.m. as a Category 4 storm, it was downgraded to a Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, a decrease from 130 mph when it made landfall.” [ABC News, 8/26/17]

Hurricane Harvey Directly Or Indirectly Resulted In The Deaths Of At Least 88 Texans. According to the Texas Tribune, “Hurricane Harvey has directly or indirectly taken the lives of as least 88 Texans, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Department of State Health Services. The majority of deaths – 62 – were caused by wind, rain and floods, which led to drownings or trees falling on people. Meanwhile, 26 deaths were caused by ‘unsafe or unhealthy conditions’ related to the loss or disruption of services such as utilities, transportation and medical care. The state health agency found deaths caused by medical conditions, electrocution, traffic accidents, flood water-related infections, fires and burns.” [Texas Tribune, 10/13/17

Hurricane Harvey Caused $158.8 Billion In Damage, Only Second To Katrina. [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Accessed 6/4/24

In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Harvey, Trump’s Response Lacked Empathy

U.S. News And World Report Op-Ed: Trump’s Response To Hurricane Harvey Revealed An “Empathy Gap.” According to U.S. News and World Report, “[Trump] is showing an empathy gap […] But so far he hasn’t provided the emotional connection that many Americans would like to see, such as personally comforting people at their moment of need and citing some of the many cases of heroism by first responders and everyday people helping each other. On Tuesday, the president visited two crisis centers in Texas and talked with federal, state and local officials about making the rescue, relief and recovery efforts as effective as possible. He didn’t meet, at least publicly, with hurricane victims as other presidents have done under similar circumstances but emphasized how well things were going overall. In Corpus Christi, he said, ‘We want to do it better than ever before.’ He addressed a crowd outside a firehouse where he had been briefed as if he were attending a rally. ‘What a crowd!’ he declared. ‘What a turnout!’” [U.S. News And World Report – Op-Ed – Kenneth T. Walsh, 9/1/17]

Trump Was Criticized For Calling Hurricane Harvey An “Epic” Storm While Having No Idea What Damage Was Incurred. According to U.S. News and World Report, “This didn’t sit well with Trump critics. ‘It’s not a time for crowing about crowds,’ Alyssa Mastromonaco, former deputy chief of staff for President Barack Obama, told The Washington Post. ‘This weather event isn’t even over yet. They have no idea the damage that’s been incurred and how many people will need a place to live when this is over. It’s catastrophic, not epic,’ a reference to a word Trump used to describe the storm.” [U.S. News And World Report – Op-Ed – Kenneth T. Walsh, 9/1/17]

Trump Said The Coast Guard Rescued People Who “Went Out On Their Boats To Watch” Harvey. According to CNN, “President Donald Trump suggested Wednesday that a main reason the US Coast Guard was so busy rescuing people during Hurricane Harvey was that people were watching the storm on boats. But local officials — including the state’s Republican governor — have no idea what he’s talking about The Coast Guard ‘saved 16,000 people, many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is,’ Trump said during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters for a briefing on hurricane season. He added, ‘People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane. That didn’t work out too well.’” [CNN, 6/7/18]

Trump Joked That Texas Made A Fortune From Hurricane Harvey

Trump Joked That Texas Made A “Fortune” After Hurricane Harvey. According to Dallas News, “When President Donald Trump took the stage at American Airlines Center on Thursday, he rattled off a long list of how he thought Texas was better since he took office — including a big payout after Hurricane Harvey. ‘You made a fortune on the hurricane!’ Trump said, referring to the federal aid the state received after the Category 4 hurricane in 2017 killed more than 100 and left catastrophic flooding from southeast Texas into Central Texas. It caused more than $125 billion in damage.” [Dallas News, 10/18/19]

2019: Ahead Of Hurricane Dorian, Trump Altered An Official NOAA Map Tracking The Storm’s Trajectory 

September 2019: Trump Tweeted That Hurricane Dorian Would Hit Alabama

September 1, 2019: Trump Tweeted That Alabama Would Be Hit By Hurricane Dorian “(Much) Harder Than Anticipated.” According to Trump’s Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, “In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!” [Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, @realDonaldTrump, 9/1/19]

The National Weather Service Contradicted Trump’s Claim

The National Weather Service In Birmingham Corrected Trump, Tweeting That Alabama Would “Not See Any Impacts From Dorian.” According to a tweet from the National Weather Service in Birmingham, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.” [Twitter accessed via the Wayback Machine, @NWSBirmingham, 9/1/19]

Trump Redrew An Official NOAA Map To Support His Claim 

Trump Used A Black Sharpie To Alter The Trajectory Of Hurricane Dorian To Include Alabama. According to CNN, “President Donald Trump was the one who used a black Sharpie marker to alter an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map to include Alabama in Hurricane Dorian’s trajectory during an Oval Office presentation earlier this week, The Washington Post reported. ‘No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie,’ a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Post.” [CNN, 9/6/19]

Trump Was Fixated On Defending His Erroneous Warnings That Alabama Was Going To Be Hit By Hurricane Dorian. According to the Washington Post, “He posted nine tweets and five maps about Alabama and the big storm. He defended a doctored hurricane map that had been altered with a black Sharpie to include the state. And he had his White House release a 225-word statement defending his erroneous warnings that Alabama was ‘going to get a piece’ of the storm. As Hurricane Dorian battered the Carolinas with torrential rain and wind Thursday, President Trump remained fixated on sunny Alabama — a state he falsely claimed was in the storm’s crosshairs long after it was in the clear.” [Washington Post, 9/5/19]

Alabama Was Spared By Hurricane Dorian. According to Politico, “Alabama was spared, but Dorian could still wreak havoc. As of midafternoon Thursday, the center of Dorian was located about 60 miles south of Myrtle Beach, S.C., or 110 miles south-southeast of Wilmington, N.C. The center of Dorian has thus far remained just offshore, but the storm is still lashing the Southeastern coast with dangerous storm surge, damaging winds, heavy rain and tornadoes. Dorian is now headed toward the vulnerable Outer Banks of North Carolina, which are sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pamlico and Albermarle sounds to the west.” [Politico, 9/5/19]

The Trump Administration Diverted FEMA Funding To ICE Less Than A Week After Hurricane Dorian

Shortly Following Hurricane Dorian, The Trump Administration Diverted FEMA Funding To ICE For Detention Facility Beds. According to the Center for American Progress, “The Trump administration diverted Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to increase immigration enforcement, less than a week after Hurricane Dorian approached the Southern coast. Funding totaling $115 million from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund will now be directed toward U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to help supply new detention facility beds. The move leaves communities of color at greater risk for natural disasters and less able to recover after a disaster.” [Center for American Progress, 2/27/20

Trump Repeatedly Raised The Idea Of Dropping Bombs On Hurricanes

Trump Asked If He Could Nuke A Hurricane. According to Axios, “During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, ‘I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?’ according to one source who was there. ‘They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?’ the source added, paraphrasing the president’s remarks.” [Axios, 8/25/19]

Trump Previously Raised The Idea Of Bombing A Hurricane To Stop It From Hitting The U.S. According to Axios, “Trump also raised the idea in another conversation with a senior administration official. A 2017 NSC memo describes that second conversation, in which Trump asked whether the administration should bomb hurricanes to stop them from hitting the homeland. A source briefed on the NSC memo said it does not contain the word ‘nuclear’; it just says the president talked about bombing hurricanes.” [Axios, 8/25/19]

Trump Rolled Back Flood Standards And Worsened Flooding With His Border Wall

2017: Trump Revoked Critical Flood Standards That Protected Americans

2017: Trump Revoked Obama-Era Flood Standards That Required The Government To Account For Sea Level Rise. According to Reuters, “U.S. President Donald Trump will revoke an Obama-era executive order on Tuesday that required strict building standards for government-funded projects to reduce exposure to increased flooding from sea level rise, sources said. Trump will sign his executive order this afternoon to revoke the standards as part of his administration’s plan to ‘streamline the current process’ for infrastructure projects, a government official said.” [Reuters, 8/15/17]

The Standards Sought To Account For Increased Flooding And Downpours Due To Climate Change. According to Reuters, “The Obama-era standard required that builders factor in scientific projections for how climate change could affect flooding in a certain area and ensure projects can withstand rising sea levels and stronger downpours.”[Reuters, 8/15/17]

Under Trump, The U.S. Saw Five Billion-Dollar Flooding Events

During Trump’s Presidency, The U.S. Saw Five Billion-Dollar Flooding Events That Caused $28.6 Billion In Damages And Killed 37 People. [NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Accessed 5/31/24]

Trump’s Southern Border Wall Exacerbated Flooding

GAO: Construction Of The Border Wall Exacerbated Flooding. According to Politico, “Construction of the border wall disrupted water flow during heavy rain events, exacerbating flooding, GAO found. Contractors also drained groundwater in San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, which has in turn drained some ponds and threatened water levels in others that contain endangered fish.” [Politico, 9/7/23]

2020: As Michigan Flooded, Trump Threatened To Withhold Funding Because Of Absentee Ballot Applications 

2020: Less Than 24 Hours After Thousands Of Michiganders Were Evacuated Due To Flooding, Trump Tweeted About Withholding Funding From The State Over Absentee Ballot Applications. According to the Lansing State Journal, “Less than 24 hours after both the Edenville and Sanford dams broke and thousands were evacuated, President Donald Trump tweeted about withholding funding from Michigan should state officials proceed with a plan to mail absentee ballot applications.” [Lansing State Journal, 5/20/20]