Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
Earlier this week President Trump tweeted out the above tweet and while many of us have ceased to be truly stunned by anything the president says and tweets, him stating that he won’t give government aid to desperate Americans struggling to survive is deeply troubling. Trump’s claim that “forest management” will magically stop the hellish infernos that California experiences each summer has been disproven numerous times by actual fire scientists. In fact, the federal government manages 57% of the forests in California, private owners are responsible for 39% and the state only manages 2 percent of % forests. It’s unclear whether Trump’s tweet was some sort of political retribution for California’s voters overwhelmingly rejecting him but one thing is certain, him withholding FEMA money isn’t going to harm the “liberal elite,” it’s going to harm mothers being forced to live in tent camps reminiscent of a UN refugee camp while their kids breathe in toxic smoke from nearby fires:
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson has actually had to start covering the fire beat as there is so much story development with the wildfires and their aftermath to report. Her tweet responding to Trump after having been on the front lines of this devastation is especially astute and she pointed out that the president’s remarks come after the deaths of 6 firefighters and 94 civilians during last year’s forest fires. If you get a chance I (Miro) HIGHLY recommend that you listen to Lizzie’s interview on the Longform podcast of what it’s like to report these natural disasters and how physiologically taxing it is for reporters to bring us these stories. Thank you to all the journalists who risk their safety to bring us the truth.
Why This Matters: I wrote about this in a recent Bright Ideas op-ed, but this is very personal for me as people I love (including my immediate family) face the possibility of losing everything should a wildfire erupt in California. It’s unconscionable that the President of the United States would play political games with people who risk losing their homes and their lives.