Texans are blasting Trump for lying and denigrating the heroes of Hurricane Harvey.
Texans are slamming Trump for a wild, inaccurate story about Hurricane Harvey that sought to make Texas residents look stupid.
While on a conference call with state and local leaders to discuss preparations for the 2018 hurricane season, Trump told a tall tale about civilian response to the storm.
“Sixteen thousand people, many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane,” Trump said. He claimed that those people then required rescue from the Coast Guard, who he praised.
But the story was made up.
The Houston Chronicle described the comments as “bizarre or ill-informed” and asked Texans to respond to the latest of his bizarre allegations. They were not happy.
Taylor Fontenot, a bartender from Sugarland who was part of the Cajun Navy alliance of civilians who used their private boats to rescue storm victims, slammed Trump.
“For it to be looked lightly on or diminished, or seen as a joke, it’s kind of a slap in the face,” he told the Chronicle.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told the Chronicle civilians made an “extraordinary effort” during the storm to rescue neighbors, relatives and pets while using their own boats.
Gonzalez said, “I didn’t see anyone taking the approach that would reflect his comments,” and added, “I’ll be sure to invite the president to ride out the next hurricane in a jon boat in Galveston Bay the next time one approaches.”
Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said, “Without the assistance of private citizens in their own boats… we would have had a more difficult time in getting to everybody that needed assistance.”‘
Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, said, “The reality is, I did not experience people sitting out in Brays Bayou waiting for the storm to come in … All the boats I saw out there were ones trying to help.”
Francisco Sanchez, spokesman for the Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management praised the residents Trump smeared: “The response from our community members and folks at the Cajun Navy that brought their boats, put them in the water to rescue people and to help, filled the gap that we couldn’t simply because of size and scope of what Hurricane Harvey was doing to our community.”
Even Trump ally, Texas governor Greg Abbott, has no idea where Trump came up with this story. He told the paper he had “no information one way or another about that.”
The apparently made-up story even put the agency Trump was praising in an odd spot. Coast Guard Petty Officer Edward Wargo, when asked by the Chronicle to verify Trump’s allegation said, “I don’t know how we would go about confirming that.”
He chose to attack and smear Texans while speaking about the hurricane. Yet even in that bastion of Republican politics that is Texas, his lies are being called out.