News forecasters, much less Texas residents, were able to predict the extent of the devastation tropical storm Hurricane Harvey would inflict. As we enter the fifth day of continued landfall, 10 deaths have been reported and 30,000 people have been displaced. Harvey has been referred to as “one of the worst rainstorms” in history. On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the disaster relief organization would be in Houston “for years” repairing the damage.
While celebrities have been chipping in to contribute to hurricane relief efforts, there’s also been a palpable level of apathy, specifically from government officials. One of the initial points of speculation was the absence of mandatory evacuation orders despite forewarnings that the storm would be a Category 4 hurricane. Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the U.S. was initially thought to be a Category 3 storm, yet evacuation orders were still made.
When questioned about the city’s decision not to mandate evacuations, Governor Abbott said people shouldn’t “second guess” Houston government officials.
The lack of appropriate response to the storm from the Trump administration also hasn’t been sitting well with some, specifically the report of an executive order issued 10 days prior to the hurricane. On Monday, Business Insider reported Trump rescinded regulations that would have helped protect federally funded infrastructure from storm damages. The president reversed the policies put in place by Obama by way of executive order.
Another response from the administration which grew heavy criticism is the continuance of Border Patrol checkpoints. Quartz reports the checkpoints will remain open to verify the citizenship of those trying to escape the storm. But Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner vowed to protect everyone seeking shelter regardless of immigrant. The former lawyer also offered to represent those being threatened with deportation in court.
Additionally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was reported to have left 50 immigrant women and children stranded at a San Antonio bus station an hour before the storm began flooding the Gulf Coast with 50 inches of rainfall.
Renowned Texas pastor Joel Osteen also garnered backlash his actions or lack thereof surrounding the storm when he declined to open his megachurch to displaced residents as shelter. Lakewood Church where Osteen performs the role of a Senior Pastor, seats over 16,000 people and previously served as a sports arena. Osteen and his team continue to defend their decision alleging that it has been affected by the flooding, but Newswire reports the church has hardly suffered as a result of Harvey. Only after hours of criticism did the church finally offer asylum.
Fortunately, kinder hearts have come to aid those being impacted by the tropical storm. Kevin Hart who pledged to donate $50,000 to relief efforts challenged other celebrities to give their money to the devastated city. Chris Brown, The Rock and T.I. were among those to adhere to the funny man’s request. The Kardashian family pledged a total of $500,000.
Harvey is expected to head towards Louisiana next. Read here if you’d like to aid those who have been displaced by the storm.