The newspaper’s editorial board urged Trump to use his power to help those affected by the historic storm and subsequent flooding, which has killed at least 10 in southeast Texas after making landfall on Friday.
“Now, more than ever, we need help from the government,” the editorial said. “We need to know that our politicians in Washington, D.C., are working just as hard as our first responders.
“You’ve never hesitated before to use the power of your bully pulpit to rally for your cause, nor were you ever one to mince words when promising to fight for the coal miners of West Virginia or steelworkers of Pennsylvania,” the editorial continued. “Now you can harness that passion to fight for Houston.”
The Chronicle published the editorial hours before Trump arrived in Corpus Christi with first lady Melania Trump to survey the damage caused by the unprecedented rainfall, which could reach at least 50 inches in the region by the end of the week and had left tens of thousands displaced.
The Chronicle’s editorial board expressed concern about the president’s attention span, based on tweets he posted as the devastating storm wreaked havoc over the weekend.
“Mr. President, our worry is that this attention from the White House will recede along with the floodwaters,” the editorial said. “Several of your tweets during the storm ― promoting a friend’s book? ― left us concerned that you’re easily distracted from the task at hand.”
“And all too many of your speeches have revealed a startling gap between what appears on the teleprompter and what lies in your heart,” the editorial continued.
Lawmakers and officials briefed Trump minutes after Air Force One touched down in Texas on Tuesday. The president praised recovery and rescue efforts, but added that “we don’t want to say congratulations. We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished.”
While Trump was only scheduled to visit Corpus Christi and Austin during his visit to Texas, the editorial urged the president to “get to know” Houston, which it termed “the energy capital of the world” that is “responsible for a quarter of U.S. petroleum refining and more than half of all jet fuel.”
“Schedule a helicopter tour or a flyover in Air Force One so that you can grasp the full range of destruction that has beset our neighborhoods, businesses and, importantly, refineries,” the editorial said. “The sheer scale of our city, and its role in the international energy economy, can only be seen from a bird’s-eye view.”
“Our city has been pushed to the brink, and the crisis still isn’t over,” the editorial said. “Homes continue to fill with floodwaters, and thousands seek shelter from a storm of biblical proportions. The number of deaths continues to inch higher, and countless families are finding themselves homeless‚ their neighborhoods lost to the rising waters.”
In remarks during his stop in Corpus Christi, Trump set a high bar for how his administration will respond to the disaster.
“We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it,” he said. “We want to do it better than ever before.”
Read the full Houston Chronicle editorial here.