Now that nearly a full week has passed since Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle and proceeded to tear through Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina—obliterating entire neighborhoods, businesses, and schools and killing at least 18 people—many of the millions of U.S. residents affected by the storm are beginning to voice outrage at the inadequate response of the Trump administration as hundreds of thousands are still without electricity as well as basic resources like food, water, medicine, and shelter.
"They're doing us like they did New Orleans. We know that people are coming, but where are they?"
—Tracey Simmons, Florida resident
"They're doing us like they did New Orleans," Florida resident Tracey Simmons told the New York Times, referring to the George W. Bush administration's appallingly slow, insufficient, and racist response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "We know that people are coming, but where are they?"
Simmons was hardly the only Floridian expressing anger at the lack of federal response to the second devastating hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland in just two months.
"We're not getting any help," Barbara Sanders, a resident of Panama City—which "looks like a bomb has been dropped on it" following the Category 4 storm—told The Daily Beast. "We need food. It's just crazy."
"We're in need of food, water, anything," Chantelle Goolspy, who lives in Panama City public housing that was badly damaged by Michael, pleaded in a phone call with the Red Cross. "The whole street needs help. FEMA referred me to you. That person told me to call 211 [Florida United Way, a nonprofit relief organization]."
A humanitarian crisis is developing in the wake of Hurricane Michael, and Trump’s FEMA is nowhere to be found. https://t.co/olR6L3bbry
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) October 15, 2018
Hurricane Michael was described by meteorologists as one of the top four most powerful hurricanes to strike the U.S. in recorded history—and the most powerful to hit the Florida Panhandle in 100 years. Nearly five days after the destructive storm made landfall, the Washington Post reported on Sunday that an estimated "200,000 Floridians are still sleeping in the dark and unable to operate their well water pumps."
"Many are running out of fuel in their vehicles. While this number [of people without electricity] has dropped from its peak of about 400,000, much of the power restoration has happened in places like Tallahassee, where the storm was not as severe and where restaurants and stores began reopening this weekend," the Post continued. "The hardest-hit counties in the Panhandle remain in a primitive state."
"When we look away from climate change, we look away from people in harm's way, and now we are living with consequences that are tragic."
—Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice
Overall, nearly a million people across four states are still without power following the historic storm.
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In the aftermath of last year's unprecedented Atlantic hurricane season—which inflicted catastrophic damage on Puerto Rico, Texas, Central America, and the Caribbean—the Trump White House came under fire for its slow and measly response.
Instead of addressing this criticism and heeding widespread calls for a comprehensive relief effort that leaves no one behind, President Donald Trump has praised himself for doing a "fantastic job" mobilizing federal resources following last year's hurricanes and downplayed the horrifying death toll in Puerto Rico, where an estimated 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria.
With Trump set to visit both Florida and Georgia this week, the president is coming under growing criticism from advocacy groups and lawmakers for spending time at his golf club and holding campaign-style rallies as dozens remain missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and millions desperately struggle to recover in the storm's wake.
"Since the storm, there’s been no electricity & no water in Panama City. Emergency disaster relief was yet to be seen in strength as of Sat. morn. & residents were growing more frustrated & desperate."
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) October 14, 2018
Floridians struggling to survive in the brutal aftermath of #HurricaneMichael must never forget that Donald Trump diverted 10 million dollars from @fema to fund the cost of detention beds and removal programs. https://t.co/MJu4oKaT1n
— Winifred (@WaywardWinifred) October 14, 2018
In addition to condemning the Trump administration's paltry and incompetent response to individual hurricanes over the past year, environmentalists have also called attention to the broader climate crisis, which is likely to produce more frequent and powerful storms in the near future as the White House dismisses the dire warnings of experts and continues to cater to the desires of the fossil fuel industry.
"In failing to take every action possible to arrest climate change, and in failing to invest in our communities to better prepare them for new climate realities, our government is failing us," Earthjustice president Abigail Dillen said in a statement last week. "When we look away from climate change, we look away from people in harm's way, and now we are living with consequences that are tragic."