During the Hurricane Harvey disaster in Texas last year, hundreds of ordinary Texans who owned small, private boats set out into the floodwaters to rescue their neighbors, or in many cases total strangers, who were trapped due to the floodwaters, in an effort that the Washington Post said “defines Hurricane Harvey.”
But Donald Trump, apparently, was not impressed by the selfless acts of Texans, including, as CNN reported, the “Cajun Navy” volunteer rescue group that formed for exactly that purpose in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. During a rally at the 18,000-seat Toyota Center in Houston on Monday, Trump mocked the volunteers who rescued hurricane victims in their own boats.
According to an account by Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek shared on his Twitter account, Trump said the following to the audience at the Toyota Center.
“Next time there’s a hurricane, do me a favor. Don’t take your boat out into the water.”
Trump also speculated that the volunteer rescuers undertook their risky mission only because they wanted to “show their wife how great they are,” according to the Tribune.
But Monday’s rally was not the first time that Trump belittled the volunteer rescuers. According to the Houston Chronicle, Trump said during a conference call with state and federal disaster response leaders in June that “people went out in their boats to watch the hurricane,” adding that this “didn’t work out too well.”
Donald Trump says people with “little boats” wanted to go out into the storm during Hurricane Harvey to “show their wife how great they are.”— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) October 23, 2018
Watch the Trump rally in Texas here, courtesy of @NBCDFW. https://t.co/c5j7ucKZam pic.twitter.com/T5SzAkHYol
According to the Chronicle report, the United States Coast Guard rescued about 11,000 people and more than 1,400 pets during Hurricane Harvey. On August 26, the Coast Guard rescued 15 people “aboard other vessels in distress near Port Aransas,” adding that it wasn’t clear why there were people in the vessels, the Chronicle added.
But the crowd inside the Toyota Center seemed to enjoy Trump’s comments, according to a Texas Tribune report, which described Trump’s Houston, audience as “a largely white crowd in the country’s most diverse city,” adding that “Trump supporters snacked and smoked, snaking their way through a line whose end was difficult to locate.”
At the rally in support of Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who is locked in a close re-election battle with Democrat Beto O’Rourke, Trump condemned O’Rourke as “a stone cold phony” and a “radical open-borders left-winger,” per a separate Texas Tribune report.
O’Rourke does not support “open borders.” His Beto For Senate website says that his policy calls for “a fair path to citizenship for those inspired by the opportunity and ideals that we present to the rest of the world.”