President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia today, pledging FEMA support and saying the safety of the American people is his “absolute highest priority” as Hurricane Florence rages towards the southern East Coast.
The declaration allows the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to work together on relief efforts, a move that will help save lives, minimize property damage, and help the state prepare for and deal with the aftermath of the storm.
This comes in the wake of the letter Virginia lawmakers Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and U.S. Reps. Scott Taylor and Bobby Scott wrote to President Trump pleading for federal emergency assistance.
According to WTKR.com, the letter was an attempt by lawmakers to “ensure the safety of our constituents.”
“A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence. Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents,” the Virginia Congressional Delegation wrote.
The safety of American people is my absolute highest priority. Heed the directions of your State and Local Officials. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE! https://t.co/YP7ssITwW9 pic.twitter.com/LZIUCgdPTH
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2018
The president’s speedy reaction to the Virginia lawmaker’s requests for aid came much quicker than support for Puerto Rican officials after Hurricane Maria ravaged the U.S. territory, killing nearly 3,000 people according to CNN.
Despite the fact that the newest reports have the death toll 45 times higher than originally reported, according to CNN, the president still told CNN’s Jim Acosta he feels his administration “did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico.”
President Trump originally praised his administration after the release of the original death toll of only 64, even claiming the storm had resulted in a relatively small number of casualties compared to a “real catastrophe like Katrina.” He also rated himself a “10 out of 10” when it came to disaster recovery efforts during a meeting last year with Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello.
Many Puerto Rican officials voiced their displeasure with the president, one of the most vocal being Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital city San Juan.
“The administration killed the Puerto Ricans with neglect. The Trump administration led us to believe they were helping when they weren’t up to par, and they didn’t allow other countries to help us,” Yulin Cruz told CNN Wednesday, later adding, “Shame on President Trump. Shame on President Trump for not even once, not even yesterday, just saying, ‘Look, I grieve with the people of Puerto Rico.'”