Trump’s recent Twitter statements on the California wildfires were insensitive, inflammatory, irresponsible and flagrantly false. The Hill, Camp and Woolsey fires currently reaping havoc in residential areas of Northern and Southern California, originated in the wildland-urban interface, which are locations where communities are situated in close proximity to undeveloped areas, creating conditions ripe for fires to spread quickly from open fields with shrubs and grasslands to neighborhoods. With a death toll still rising, the Camp Fire is the deadliest in California history.
These wildfires are escalating in size, frequency, and intensity and becoming less predictable. Instead of cooling through the night, as had been in past years, they are rapidly incinerating communities, even those previously thought to be moderately protected.
Rather than show compassion for those who have lost lives and lost over 6,000 homes to these devastating infernos, Trump has decided to grandstand and politicize the tragedies. Instead of recognizing trends in population shifts, to urban-wildland areas or acknowledging the scientific research which cites climate change as a major contributing factor, he has blamed poor forest management or gross mismanagement and threatened to cut off Federal aid. Global warming has led to vegetation drying out more quickly, causing it to burn more easily and more difficult to contain. Yet Trump continues to deny global warming and has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement and cut federal funding for continued scientific climate research.
The NAACP stands in support of the people of State of California during these catastrophic times and commends the courageous firefighters and other first responders who have been instrumental in mitigating damages and saving lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who perished, the evacuees and those who are struggling to recover. We call upon Trump to cease his reckless tweets, which have compounded the suffering and commit to fully and adequately funding the recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Approving an expedited request for the federal emergency declaration is the first step in the right direction, but must be with the sincere intent of providing the depth of public assistance needed to aid local, state and tribal governments. Long-term assistance with housing, ongoing emergency response, and recovery, including repair and replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and utilities is essential in California’s complete restoration.