At least 23 people are dead after tornadoes tore through the South, according to the Washington Post. Sheriff Jay Jones of Lee County, AL, which suffered “catastrophic” damage, told the Post he fears the death toll will rise as rescue efforts continue—on Monday morning, “double digits” of people were still missing, and others were taken to local hospitals with “very serious injuries.”
Images coming out of the state make the damage look soul-crushing, with homes in ruins and trees splintered. It’s eerily reminiscent of other natural disasters that have struck during President Donald Trump’s time in office, like the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and the California wildfires.
However, whereas Trump snubbed the people of Puerto Rico and downplayed the lethality of the hurricane, blamed Californians for their hundreds and thousands of scorched acres, the president is comforting Alabamans, a deep red state, with open arms.
“FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning (after deleting another version tagging the wrong account).
Amid Trump’s eagerness to help suffering Alabamans, let’s not forget that while it took Trump four days to land in Texas and Florida after their respective Hurricanes, it took him 13 days to visit Puerto Rico. Trump didn’t just antagonize the people of Puerto Rico on their home turf by throwing rolls of paper towels at them to make disaster relief seem fun. He also bullied them online, alleging workers on the island “want[ed] everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” as if FEMA’s aid wasn’t pathetic in addressing the needs of millions of Americans affected by power outages and communication blackouts. In November, Axios reported Trump wanted to cut off FEMA aid to the island because he believed the government was using the aid to pay off its debt.
Trump also responded to Northern California being decimated by wild fires by criticizing the state’s “poor” forest management and threatened to cut off federal aid to the state. After approving Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for an emergency declaration for the state, he warned he may not do it again in the future. Then in January, Trump said he directed FEMA to cut off aid to the state “unless they get their act together,” though he apparently never actually followed through on that, according to the agency.
Perhaps Trump’s rapid response means he’s learned from his egregious mistakes in responding to Californian and Puerto Rican families whose lives were torn apart. Perhaps that’s why he’s so eager to deliver his support to another red state entrenched in disaster, but it feels highly unlikely.