President Trump Visits Fire-Ravaged California
President Donald Trump visited California over the weekend to survey damage and meet with leaders and residents affected by a spate of wildfires, including the deadliest and most destructive in California’s history. While in the Golden State, Trump also took time to meet with survivors of a recent mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. The memorial for one of the 12 victims, Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, was held Thursday in Westlake Village.
“This is very sad to see,” Trump said Saturday, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Gov. Jerry Brown, Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom, and Paradise Mayor Jody Jones in a decimated area of Butte County. “As far as the lives are concerned, nobody knows quite yet."
Trump struck a much more sympathetic tone than in his initial tweet on the fires in which he blamed bad forest management and threatened to withhold federal funds. During his visit, Trump said he stands with California and that his administration will do everything it can to help survivors rebuild their towns and lives.
Trump still managed to elicit controversy when it came to his thoughts on how California can prevent such tragedies in the future, however.
“You look at other countries where they do it differently, and it’s a whole different story,” the president said. “I was with the president of Finland, and he said, ‘We have a much different — we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation... And they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem. And when it is, it’s a very small problem. So I know everybody’s looking at that to that end. And it’s going to work out, it’s going to work out well.”
The statement provoked a firestorm on social media, replete with some much needed comic relief. By Sunday, hashtags like #RakeNews and #MakeAmericaRake again were trending on Twitter. Finland’s president has since said the president must have misunderstood.
Together, the Camp and Woolsey Fires have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres. The Camp Fire is now the deadliest in California’s history, with 76 confirmed fatalities as of Sunday and another 1,300 people unaccounted for.
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