Trump's Hurricane Michael & Florence Warnings Couldn't Have Been More Different
Hurricane Michael is rapidly approaching Florida, with the storm expected to make landfall on Wednesday. The storm follows another major hurricane, Florence, that struck the East Coast of the United States in mid-September. When comparing Trump's Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence warnings, the former perhaps appears a bit more formal and less controversial than the latter.
On Sept. 12, Trump released a video statement about Hurricane Florence that was filmed in the Oval Office of the White House. In the video, the president is seated at his desk. He begins his speech by reading from a piece of paper, but then appears to start speaking impromptu. During this portion of his statement, he refers to Florence as a "tremendously big and tremendously wet" storm with "tremendous amounts of water" — a statement for which he was later mocked by late night and on social media, as ABC News reported.
Later in his statement, following an overview of safety precautions by FEMA head Brock Long, Trump began discussing what he perceives as the United States' previous successes in hurricane relief and recovery, particularly related to 2017's Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria. As the president said, "I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success. Texas we've been given A-pluses for, Florida we've been given A-pluses for, I think, in a certain way, the best job we did was Puerto Rico, but nobody would understand that."
Trump also received some criticism for the remark he made about Puerto Rico during this statement, as his administration's hurricane relief efforts in the U.S. territory have been characterized as largely insufficient by many. Indeed, after Trump delivered his Hurricane Florence statement, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, condemned Trump for his comments about the United States' relief efforts on the island. "This is a stain on his presidency," she said to CNN. "He says he’s done a good job when 3,000 people have died? God bless us all if this man continues on this path.”
In contrast to his Hurricane Florence remarks, Trump's brief statement about Hurricane Michael, which he delivered while speaking at a national police convention in Florida on Monday, appeared to be a bit more formal — and perhaps somewhat less controversial. While standing at a podium, Trump addressed the Florida crowd, saying (as reported by USA Today):
As Hurricane Michael nears landfall, we are working with state and local officials in Florida to take all necessary precautions. And we urge all residents to be prepared and to heed local officials. I told [Governor] Rick Scott that we are ready for you. And we have already briefed FEMA ... and it looks like a big one.
While delivering a more straightforward message on Hurricane Michael and not reflecting on its "wet" nature, Trump still did take some time to sing his administration's praises when it comes to hurricane preparation, albeit perhaps somewhat less controversially. After encouraging Florida's residents to heed hurricane warnings, Trump added, "It looks like another big one, but we've handled them well. We've handled them very well. And that includes the one that just left us in Florida. Never ends."
Overall, Trump's statements about Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael differed somewhat in both their content and delivery. It's unclear whether or not these changes were intentional or simply a matter of circumstance.