As Hurricane Irma devastates South Florida, residents facing down the storm want to know why Donald Trump hasn't offered to open any of his properties to help those in need. Instead, his resorts are only open to paying customers.
As shelters filled to capacity ahead of Hurricane Irma’s imminent arrival in South Florida, some residents are asking why Donald Trump isn’t stepping up to help them.
Irma is on track to be among the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States. Millions of Florida residents have been forced to evacuate their homes, filling local shelters and leaving some people with no place to go.
In an interview with The Independent, Florida resident Rick Castillo described how South Floridians were coming together to help one another prepare for the storm, and questioned why the president wasn’t doing the same.
Calling on Trump to open his exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort as a hurricane shelter, Castillo said, "He should be doing anything to help the public."
"When people need help, you either help or you turn your head. I think Trump is turning his head," he continued.
The Trump Organization owns at least eight resorts and golf clubs in South Florida, including Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, as well as three properties in Sunny Isles, one in Hollywood Beach, one in West Palm Beach, one in Jupiter, and one in Doral.
While Mar-a-Lago is in a mandatory evacuation zone, several other Trump resorts are keeping their doors open during the hurricane — but only to paying customers, not to residents seeking refuge from the storm.
At Trump’s luxury resort in nearby Doral, vacationers paid $200 to $500 a night to enjoy golfing and fine dining while local residents scrambled to find necessities on the bare shelves of grocery stores and gas stations. According to the Miami New Times, requests for reservations spiked in the week leading up the storm. A receptionist told Newsweek that the resort was at full capacity, adding, "Luckily our windows are hurricane-proof!"
Other resorts in the area have already announced that they will make room to accommodate people displaced by the storm. According to Newsweek, at least two nudist resorts are among those offering to open their doors to Floridians seeking shelter from the devastating storm. Airbnb properties are also offering to house people at no cost.
But for Trump, it’s business as usual.
Although he claims to have divested from his businesses, Trump still owns all eight properties in Florida and stands to make a hefty profit as the devastating storm ravages the state.
As despicable as it is, profiting from natural disasters is nothing new for Trump, who was seen wearing merchandise touting his 2020 presidential campaign two weeks ago during a Hurricane Harvey press conference. One of those items was a $40 "Official USA Cap," which is advertised on Trump’s campaign site as the hat "worn by 45th President Donald J. Trump, himself."
According to NPR, Trump wore his own campaign merchandise during at least three events surrounding Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.
Meanwhile, as Hurricane Irma approached Florida after devastating the Caribbean, and echoing his crass action during Hurricane Harvey, Trump’s campaign sent out a text message soliciting donations for the 2020 election.
As Irma edges closer to Florida, the Trump campaign just sent out a text message asking for a donation. pic.twitter.com/muhSTl4gVi
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 8, 2017
After facing widespread criticism, Trump pledged to donate $1 million to Harvey relief efforts. As of Thursday, none of the charities had confirmed receiving the promised funds.
Trump talks a lot about "thoughts and prayers." It would be nice if those words were backed up with actions.