When I shared my thoughts on Harvey recovery on Friday, I could not have imagined hearing what we heard yesterday.
Yesterday, Donald Trump said that the Coast Guard rescued 16,000 people during hurricane Harvey because “people went out to watch the hurricane in their boats,” adding “that didn’t work out too well.”
It is not just that his ignorance is astonishing to all of us who have lived through hurricanes — though it is — it’s that we have entrusted him with our country’s disaster response agencies, and all of the other federal agencies designed to protect us in myriad ways.
On Monday, Harris County Flood Control issued a report, which the Chronicle summed up succinctly: “By every conceivable measure and in every imaginable context, Harvey caused the most disastrous flooding in the nation’s history.”
The report makes clear that Harvey’s existence and impact resulted from many challenges — challenges we face just as much today — from changes in our climate to effects of development to flood insurance to housing policies to building codes to disaster response and recovery. All of these issues are complicated. Many solutions aren’t apparent, or easy.
According to the Chronicle, “Harvey flooded 154,170 single-family houses — about 9 percent to 12 percent of all buildings in the county — and 5,000 to 15,000 apartments, condominiums and townhouses, making it ‘the largest and most devastating house flooding event ever recorded’ in the county.” And Harvey flooded many commercial structures as well. Many residents in this district are still not back in their homes and offices.
And the rescues for those displaced people — 60,000 by government agencies and more by neighbors — did not take place because they “went out to watch the hurricane in their boats.”
That the President of the United States could even suggest this to be true is terrifying. That Governor Abbott would not correct him is disappointing. That John Culberson agrees with President Trump almost 100% of the time is motivating.
It’s time to Switch the Seventh.