Americans are dying in Houston and southeastern Texas. Footage of dramatic water rescues and images of near-death situations are flooding (no pun intended) the internet and nightly news broadcasts. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is coming under fire as questions regarding whether the politics of division help to worsen a bad situation?
Prior to the storm making landfall, President Trump used his considerable Twitter might to advise his constituents what was coming — a storm of biblical magnitude. Back on August 25, after having communicated with (Republican) Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the POTUS tweeted the news that he had signed a Disaster Proclamation, thus clearing the way for federal assistance for the state.
At the request of the Governor of Texas, I have signed the Disaster Proclamation, which unleashes the full force of government help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2017
Seemed like a good, reasonable and proper thing to do. Governor Abbott then made the situation clear — just get out. Now. In a press briefing with reporters after a statewide emergency call with Texas officials Abbott said, “I would urge everybody who has the possibility to consider evacuating as soon as possible.”
After which, the POTUS weighed in with some muscle behind Abbott’s statement:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2017
But there are Democrats involved, and where there are Democrats, there’s Trump Derangement Syndrome; there’s #Resist, and an ‘if Trump is for it then we must be against it’ posture — even if citizens’ lives are on the line.
Turner, a left-wing liberal and unabashed Trump hater, used his own Twitter feed to blunt Trump’s warnings, seemingly for no reason other than to maintain an obligatory contrary position to Trump.
At this point, everyone knew that a storm worse than Katrina was rapidly bearing down on Houston, yet in the wake of the president’s and governor’s warnings, the city’s mayor went anti-Trump, anti-Republican and tweeted, “Ignore unfounded, unsourced weather predictions that are frightening Houstonians. Get info from trusted outlets.”
Then, literally, as President Trump was signing the National Disaster Relief Proclamation, Mayor Turner decided to double down on his irresponsibility and tweeted, “Please think twice before trying to leave Houston en masse. No evacuation orders have been issued for the city. #Harvey.”
Any evacuation order is Turner’s. Yet, instead of issuing one, he instead chose to politicize a hurricane. He never did order evacuations, and by the time Harvey hit Houston, it was too late.
Now, national news outlets are starting to ask questions. CBS News’ Mark Strassmann asked the mayor about his decision-making point blank:
“With Harvey, Houstonians stayed put, and thousands have had to save themselves and ended up in crowded shelters. “Have you done enough to take care of the folks who were told to stay put?” Strassmann asked Turner.
“The city of Houston has been impacted by an inordinate amount of rain that fell on the city of Houston,” Turner said.
“But what is the plan for those 6 million-plus people?” Strassmann asked.
“We asked people to prepare, and they did,” Turner said. “I’m going to allow all the people on social media and the talking heads to talk but they don’t have the responsibility of managing and running this city. I do.”
Ah, yeah, right — that’s the point, Mr. Mayor. You do have that responsibility and you didn’t live up to it.
Even the Washington Post, not exactly known for being an attack dog on liberals, had to chime in:
Through Monday morning, Harvey continued to unleash record levels of rain on Houston, causing “catastrophic” flooding in the city and in surrounding Harris County, where at least six people appear to have died as a result of the storm.
Some parts of Harris County have received more than 30 inches of rain since Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The NWS warned of “additional catastrophic, unprecedented and life threatening flooding” through this week and placed flash-flood emergencies for all of Southeast Texas.
As the much-anticipated storm pummeled the country’s fourth-largest city — overwhelming the 911 system and sending some residents, against the advice of officials, into their attics to flee floodwaters — many asked the question: Should Houston have been evacuated? If so, why wasn’t it?
At least one top official thought it should have been.
On Friday, before Harvey made landfall, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) encouraged residents to evacuate low lying and coastal areas, even if a mandatory evacuation order had not been issued.
“Even if an evacuation order hasn’t been issued by your local official, if you’re in an area between Corpus Christi and Houston, you need to strongly consider evacuating,” Abbott said at a news conference. “What you don’t know, and what nobody else knows right now, is the magnitude of flooding that will be coming.
“You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you could be subject to a search and rescue.”
The governor’s warning was in sharp contrast to the advice local and county officials had been dispensing for days: Shelter and stay in place.
And it set off a scramble by local officials on social media to tell Houston-area residents otherwise.”
We hope and pray the number dead or missing in Houston doesn’t continue to climb. But we can only wonder: Did it have to be this way?
[NOTE: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn, Founder and Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives, and a speaker, author, columnist and analyst for multiple print and broadcast media outlets. Follow him on Facebook and at RMBlackConservatives.com.]