During his tour of affected areas in North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, President Donald Trump on Wednesday stopped to remark about what he saw as one man’s new fortune.
According to White House pool reports, Trump spoke with an older man standing in front of a small brick house, behind which was a large yacht that had washed ashore and was shipwrecked against the man’s wooden deck.
When asked if this was his boat, the man told Trump, “no.” He went on to complain to the president that his insurance company didn’t want to pay for the damage to his home from the storm.
Responding to the man, Trump assured him he would find out the name of his insurance company, and said, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”
“I think it’s incredible what we’re seeing,” Trump continued. “This boat just came here.”
“They don’t know whose boat that is. What’s the law? Maybe it becomes theirs,” he added.
Trump to a homeowner in New Bern, NC, who had a yacht wash up in his backyard: “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.” pic.twitter.com/twtT3it8ul
— Mark Landler (@MarkLandler) September 19, 2018
"sorry your house is destroyed but maybe you can live in this cool yacht that washed up?" https://t.co/hb49XRUMuE
— Nathalie Baptiste (@nhbaptiste) September 19, 2018
Earlier in the day, during a press conference, Trump acknowledged the scale of Florence’s damage. The storm has caused widespread flooding, leaving some towns completely isolated, and is among the most devastating to ever hit the Carolinas.
“Some of the flooding is epic, hard to believe,” he said, later promising that “whatever we have to do at the federal level, we will be there.”
His attention, however, quickly turned to more personal matters. According to White House pool reports, Trump asked a state official “How is Lake Norman doing?”
The president was assured the area, just north of Charlotte, North Carolina, was doing alright. “I love that area. I can’t tell you why, but I love that area,” Trump responded. Lake Normal is home to a Trump National Golf Club.
This isn’t the first time that Trump has shown a lack of empathy for the victims of natural disaster. During his trip to Texas for a briefing on Hurricane Harvey last year, Trump praised FEMA’s response efforts and congratulated local officials. Notably absent from his comments following the briefing, however, was any mention of people who had died or been displaced by the storm.
And in his now infamous comments to Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico, Trump told survivors they should be happy the storm wasn’t “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”
Official numbers now put the death toll in Puerto Rico from last year’s hurricanes at nearly 3,000 — a number Trump refuses to recognize and instead says is a conspiracy by his political opponents.
He also reportedly questioned the need for flashlights in Puerto Rico just days after the storm hit, when only 7 percent of the island’s power had been restored. Months later, power outages were still common and Hurricane Maria was blamed for causing the largest blackout in U.S. history.
At least 34 people have died so far from Hurricane Florence. During his televised briefing Wednesday morning Trump said, “to the families who have lost love ones, America grieves with you, and our hearts break for you… We will never leave your side. We’re with you all the way.”