On MSNBC Friday morning, Houston’s Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner told Stephanie Ruhle that he still has 10,000 residents without electricity. There’s a boil water notice for the whole city through the weekend. But get this: “I have not talked to the governor at any time during this crisis,” Turner told Ruhle. Abbott has not reached out to the mayor of the state’s largest city. Ruhle was dumbfounded. “You’re the mayor of Houston,” she said. “The governor of your state hasn’t reached out to you since this began?!” Turner reiterated, “I have not talked to the governor. […] But we’re pushing forward.” Just let that sink in. Since last week, when the storm and hit and crippled the state, Abbott has not once reached out to the mayor of the state’s largest city. How very Trumpian.
Turner shouldn’t feel slighted, though. As of Thursday night Judge Clay Jenkins, the chief executive of Dallas County, hasn’t heard from Abbott either. “I haven’t heard from the governor,” he told MSNBC. “I haven’t heard from any of the state leaders throughout this. We have been doing the best we can.” But who has he talked to? “We have heard from the White House.”
Meanwhile, it’s not just generators and diesel that Biden has sent to the state, which may or may not have been deployed. Homeland security adviser and deputy national security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall told reporters Thursday that they’ve sent “729,000 liters of water, more than 10,000 wool blankets, 50,000 cotton blankets and 225,000 meals.” FEMA is prepared to provide fuel to power facilities, Sherwood-Randall said. The White House apparently is going to have to provide the people and the vehicles to transport that fuel.
Biden has remained in contact with Abbot, tweeting Thursday night “Tonight, I called Governor Greg Abbott to discuss the ongoing situation in Texas and identify ways we can support the state’s recovery from this storm. I made clear to the Governor that I’ll work relentlessly to get his state what they need.” Abbott announced he’s going to ask the White House to declare a “major disaster declaration,” in addition to the emergency declaration that’s now in place. The disaster declaration would provide federal funding to help Texans in the long-term repair effort, including replacing broken pipes and damage done to homes.
Despite that assistance from Biden, Texas Republicans are bitching. State Rep. Bob Hall, a Republican, told The Washington Post that the federal response has been inadequate. “I have seen nothing from the federal government in response except they were going to offer up some generators,” he said, adding “I would be very concerned about any strings the federal government wants to attach. […] Especially green-energy-related.”
So maybe Abbott isn’t just incompetent and cruel. Maybe he’s not coordinating the deployment of all that assistance from Biden to prove to the people of Texas that the federal government isn’t helping them. It would be absolutely in character for Abbott and that other prominent Texas Republican.