On the twelfth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana is sadly reliving the sentiment of unease as many of the state’s former residents proceed to evacuate from their neighborhoods once again. These are among the estimated 250,000 refugees of the 2005 storm that came to Houston after Katrina, with around 100,000 that still live there today. For those whose lives have already been turned upside down once, a familiar sense of dread is settling in again.
As of Tuesday, Hurricane Harvey has broken the United States record for most rain fall of any tropical storm. While it still remains unclear how the impact of Harvey will measure up to its violent predecessor, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed in the past decade and change — our president still doesn’t give a flying fuck about us.
Back in 2005, President George W. Bush opted to do a low fly over in Air Force One instead of touching ground. An infamous photo details Bush boldly detached from the ground as he peered out the window at the destruction below. The way in which he handled this incident would go down in history as one of the biggest disgraces of his — or any — modern presidential legacy.
While the current president, Donald J. Trump, did not make the same mistakes of his Republican predecessor when it comes to appearances, his indifference to the devastation his constituents face is eerily familiar. The afternoon on which Harvey was supposed to make contact with the ground in Texas, Trump was busy tweeting (shocker) about his pardon of the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arapaio, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt for his tactics in hunting down and jailing undocumented immigrants. Asked to give a message to Texans in the hours before the storm hit, Trump — who still hasn’t appointed a new head of FEMA or the U.S. Coast Guard after plucking Gen. John Kelly, his new Chief of Staff, from the job — offered only a simple “Good luck.” The morning after the first wave of the hurricane hit, and the death toll was only at one, Trump tweeted a message to Texans that ended with “Thanks!” In other words, thanks for not dying on my watch, despite the fact that I did virtually nothing to help you.
On Tuesday, Trump touched down in Corpus Christi, one of the less devastated areas from the storm, which his current press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims was intentional. “The president wants to be very cautious about making sure that any activity doesn’t disrupt any of the recovery efforts that are still ongoing, which is the reason for the locations we are going here today,” she said to The New York Times. “As of right now, I don’t know that we will be able to get to some of the really damaged areas.”
If history proves anything, we shouldn’t hold our breath for our government to make their way to the “really damaged areas.” As we did in 2005, we still have a president who doesn’t care about how Black and brown communities are left devastated by natural disasters. We still live under an administration that refuses to even acknowledge global warming, let alone putting resources into examining how the impact it may be having on weather systems that have the potential to destroy lives and displace hundreds of thousands. We have a president that doesn’t want to see or set foot in communities that reek of destruction they’ve lead them into. We know that presidents don’t control the weather, but as the death count and water levels continue to rise in Texas and Louisiana alike and thousands of citizens cry out for help, we can count on the fact that our president will continue to turn a blind eye on the thing he can control: his compassion for those affected by it.