Pence Campaigns While Michigan Suffers Under Trump’s Failures
Notably, Pence’s trip does not include a visit to the Midland area, which was recently devastated by a 500-year flood and dam failures. Nor does the trip include any meaningful outreach to communities impacted by the administration’s incompetent response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Pence snubbing the Midland community is unsurprising as the Trump administration has repeatedly ignored Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s bipartisan requests for disaster relief funding. On Monday, Whitmer declared Midland a major disaster, after the area sustained more than $190 million in losses for residents and more than $42 million in damages to public infrastructure. This would make the state eligible for disaster relief.
Trump has not responded.
While Pence is in Michigan to play politics and ignore reality, it is important to focus on the facts: Michigan is suffering because of the Trump administration’s failure to lead.
- Michigan needs federal assistance. Trump is ignoring them. After the Midland flooding, 10,000 people were forced to evacuate the region. The disaster relief funding would cover temporary housing for those now without a home. How long will it take for Trump to act?
- Trump created this disaster within a disaster. The Trump administration has systematically gutted FEMA’s budget over the past four years. This has left the disaster relief agency weak and ill-equipped to manage the COVID-19 disaster after extreme weather events. Even Pence knows that Trump is failing with his COVID-19 response. It’s why the vice president got caught telling our nation’s governors to lie about COVID-19 cases.
- Trump’s failures have real-word consequences. Bay County saw a spike in COVID-19 cases as a result of the Midland flood.
- Trump’s giveaways to polluters have put the health of Black Michiganders at risk. Detroit has been the epicenter for COVID-19 in Michigan, where the majority Black population is at higher risk for severe symptoms due to health conditions exacerbated by air pollution, which has increased under the Trump administration.
- Long-term consequences of flooding that hit Dow Chemical’s dioxin sites in Midland remain unknown. Previous severe flooding caused dioxin-contaminated sediment to pollute streams, rivers, and lands far from the original flooding area. We have no idea how catastrophic this dioxin flood will be (Dow says little beyond generic denials but we’ll hold out for the experts). But we do know that time and again, Trump has put polluters over people so there will be no response from the administration.
The Trump administration’s failures disproportionately harm Black and Brown communities, who Trump and Pence have made a habit of routinely silencing. It’s not a coincidence that Pence chose to visit Sterling Heights, which is over 80% white, and facing fewer health, economic, and environmental concerns than nearby neighborhoods. If Pence cared enough to travel just a few miles more he’d find blatant examples of environmental racism, including:
- Michigan’s most polluted ZIP code – 48217. Four of the five most polluting refineries in Michigan are within five miles of this ZIP code. This community is 81%, Black.
- Six majority-minority communities suffocating due to systemic air pollution.
- The Flint water crisis. Six years into the Flint Water crisis and many Michiganders are without clean water.