As the death toll from Hurricane Florence grew to at least 37, President Donald Trump visited North Carolina on Wednesday and waxed positive about one survivor's misfortune
While surveying the damage in the low-lying neighborhood of New Bern, North Carolina, the president came upon a yacht that had washed ashore into a resident’s backyard.
“Is this your boat? Or . . . did it become your boat?” Trump asked the man who lived in the house, according to pool reports.
After the homeowner replied that no, it was not his boat, Trump reportedly said with a smile, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”
Trump continued to inquire about the boat, asking a crowd of reporters, residents and handlers, “That boat is wiped out, or not?” and then joking, “Wouldn’t want to cross the ocean in it.”
Hurricane Florence made landfall last Friday, claiming at least 37 lives and displacing thousands. More than 350 people had to be rescued from New Bern as storm waters flooded much of the community, The Washington Post reported.
Later on Wednesday, a reporter asked Trump for his thoughts on what he had seen in New Bern.
“I think it’s incredible, I think it’s incredible,” Trump said, according to pool reports. “To see what we’re seeing — this boat, I don’t know what happened, but this boat just came here. And do you know whose boat that is? They don’t know whose boat that is.
“What’s the law? Maybe it becomes theirs,” he added of the resident he’d met earlier.
Trump is now facing social media criticism over the remarks, which some have called “insensitive” and compassionless.
This isn’t the first time Trump has been criticized for his response to a natural disaster.
After Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, the president infamously came under fire for tossing paper towel rolls into a crowd of survivors. More recently, Trump has faced blowback over his repeated denials about the widely accepted death toll from Maria.
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Trump also raised eyebrows when he told Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston last year to “have a good time.”
But that didn’t stop him from making the same statement to Florence survivors on Wednesday.