President Donald Trump claimed that thousands of Texans had to be rescued during Hurricane Harvey because they ventured out in boats to watch the storm, saying “that didn’t work out too well,” according to a report.
The president was on a conference call with state and federal officials about hurricane preparedness Wednesday when he praised the Coast Guard for its heroics and then said the high number of water rescues were due to clueless gawkers.
“Sixteen thousand people, many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane,” Trump said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “That didn’t work out too well.”
The president’s comments baffled Texas officials.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he had “no information one way or another about that.”
“I don’t even know how to respond to that,” said Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez lauded residents for making an “extraordinary effort” to rescue neighbors, friends, relatives and pets as Harvey dumped 52 inches of rain on the Texas coast and suggested Trump should take a closer look at the efforts next time.
“I didn’t see anyone taking the approach that would reflect his comments,” Gonzalez said. “I’ll be sure to invite the president to ride out the next hurricane in a jon boat in Galveston Bay the next time one approaches.”
The Coast Guard rescued about 11,000 people after the Category 4 storm slammed into Texas, the newspaper said.
In the days after Harvey unleashed a record amount of rainfall, officials were overwhelmed by the thousands of calls for help.
Lacking enough equipment, they sought help on social media from people with boats, resulting in Good Samaritans turning out in canoes and kayaks to assist rescue efforts, the newspaper reported.
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