After offering up a lacking public response to Hurricane Harvey's devastating impact in the Houston area, Donald Trump's White House appears to be changing course for Hurricane Irma, warning residents of the southeastern United States to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
Though Trump's administration has been openly defiant even within Republican circles, the threat of Irma appeared to inspire a rare moment of cooperation from the White House. Hours before the hurricane was expected to make major impact in the state of Florida, Trump released a brief video from a White House briefing room, telling Florida residents to listen to all instructions passed down by local and state government officials.
This is a storm of enormous destructive power, and I ask everyone in the storm’s path to heed ALL instructions from government officials. pic.twitter.com/nJfM2Sdme1— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2017
Trump's messaging coincided with warnings passed down by Florida's governor, Rick Scott. Scott urged constituents to treat Irma as a matter of life or death, detailing some of the problems already hitting the state.
"This is the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen," said Scott. "If you're in an evacuation zone, you've got to get to a shelter. You've got to get to some place that's higher ground ... Right now over 76,000 people are without power. It's going to get worse."
As Florida residents prepare for Irma to make landfall, the victims of Hurricane Harvey must be wondering where this level of attention was prior to the devastation left by the storm. Trump's tweets prior to (and during) the disaster struck a weirdly positive tone in his messaging on Twitter.
HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible.Thanks!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
I will also be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in '16. Dem C.M. is opposed to big tax cuts. Republican will win S!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
Though estimates continue to be just that at the moment, the potential wreckage of Irma could be devastating for the state of Florida. 3.4 million people could be without power following the storm, and officials for Florida Power and Light have highlighted the potentially historic consequences for residents of the state.
"We think this could be the most challenging restoration in the history of the U.S.," said spokesman Chris McGrath.