As those in Florida and Texas count their dead and hope to rebuild their lives, the Trump administration offers no long-term solution to the natural disasters that have torn them apart.
A couple of weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey made landfall and gave Americans the first glimpse of the destruction hurricanes can bring since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Houston, Texas was the most heavily affected, with at least 70 dead.
Hot on the heels of that tragedy, the next star of the hurricane season, Hurricane Irma, rose to a category 5 and started heading straight for many of the Caribbean islands and Florida. Projections showed a hurricane at least double the size of Hurricane Andrew, the last category 5 to rip through South Florida.
Irma killed at least 24 and displaced thousands more in the Caribbean.
Florida was placed under a state of emergency and around five million people were forced to evacuate.
Now, as Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm but continues to bring intense wind and rain to Florida and Georgia, people are looking for answers on how to ensure this never happens again: and the Trump administration is refusing to provide them.
What’s Happening Now:
In one of their weakest responses since Charlottesville, Trump’s administration is dismissing the concerns of victims of both Hurricane Harvey and Irma.
Trump dispatched his EPA chief, who is both a climate-change denier and in the pockets of large fossil fuel companies, Scott Pruitt to deliver the following statement to CNN:
“Here’s the issue,” Pruitt told CNN in a phone interview. “To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.”
Pruitt is half right: we should be focusing on helping people in the wake of this storm. We should be making food freely available, raising money, sending volunteers to rebuild homes, and ensuring clean water is immediately accessible. We should be doing that not just for Florida but for the Caribbean as well, where building the destroyed areas back up is going to be a much harder feat.
But to pretend that focusing on the immediate renders us incapable of thinking long-term is insulting.
We wouldn’t have to be playing clean-up and identifying bodies in Houston and Florida if we addressed climate change. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may be natural disasters, but they had a lot of help from human activity.
The mayor of Miami, Tomás Regalado, understands this. He told the Miami Herald that Hurricane Irma is an obvious symbol of climate change, and it needs to be addressed.
“This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change,” said Regalado, who flew back to Miami from Argentina Friday morning to be in the city during the storm. “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”