Trump blows off talk of hurricanes during FEMA meeting

June 8, 2018

During a closed-door meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on June 6 meant to ensure preparedness for the 2018 hurricane season—which is predicted to be a nasty one, with as many as five major named storms on the East and Gulf coasts—President Donald Trump did not focus on recent or projected gales, The Washington Post reported.

Leaked audio from the 40-minute meeting at FEMA headquarters captured Trump musing about everything but the weather, according to the Post, including, “his prowess in negotiating airplane deals, his popularity, the effectiveness of his political endorsements, the Republican Party’s fortunes, the vagaries of Defense Department purchasing guidelines, his dislike of magnetized launch equipment on aircraft carriers, his unending love of coal and his breezy optimism about his planned Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.”

While speaking to the cameras for about 15 minutes, Trump briefly mentioned Puerto Rico; where the Department of Health now estimates that there were about 1,400 additional deaths following Hurricane Maria—bringing the death toll up from the initial estimate of 64.

The Trump administration was roundly criticized for its performance at that time—and still, hundreds of thousands in the U.S. territory continue to live and work without electricity.

Indeed, an Ipsos poll conducted last October found that over three-quarters of American approve of the federal disaster response for both Hurricane Harvey in Texas (78%) and Hurricane Irma in Florida (78%), but only 56% of Americans approve of the response in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Republicans are significantly more likely to approve of the responses in Texas (91%), Florida (90%) and in Puerto Rico (82%). Three-quarters of Democrats also approve of the response in Texas (75%) and Florida (75%), but just 40% of Democrats approve of the response in Puerto Rico, while 38% strongly disapprove of the response.

Trump did, however, thank FEMA officials and Cabinet members for their response to last year’s hurricane season. “We really appreciate the job you’ve done. I want to thank you very much,” he said.

Research contact: julia.clark@ipsos.com

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