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Bay Correctional Facility -- Hurricane Michael Damage
Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility suffered catastrophic damage when Hurricane Michael hit Northwest Florida.

Emails & Opinions

Joe Henderson: Hey Chip Roy, see how you like living in a FEMA hurricane trailer

Hurricane aid was coming to the Panhandle until a Republican U.S. Rep. put politics first.

I have a suggestion for U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Jerk. He’s the Texas Republican Congress Creep whose grandstand look-at-me move is holding up $19 billion in hurricane relief.

Mr. Congress Creep, come on down and experience Florida Panhandle hospitality, Hurricane Michael-style. The good people of Mexico Beach will be happy to find you accommodations in a FEMA trailer. That’s an upgrade, by the way, from the tents that many of them lived in for weeks after Michael turned their homes into piles of rubble.

It should be easy to find where you’re going. Just look for the blue tarps covering the roofs of too many homes. You better bring some snacks, though. There is no grocery store in Mexico Beach, and no gas station either.

The state has tried to help its neighbors in the Panhandle. The Florida Legislature just approved $220 million in relief, but that’s a spit in the bucket. After all, many places, especially Mexico Beach, are still trying to clean up and remove mountains of debris.

It finally looked like a substantial bipartisan federal aid package was on its way to areas struggling from hurricane damage. That includes parts of Texas, the home state of Roy, R-Balderdash.

But then Roy objected because, he said, “This is a bill that includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our southern border.”

His one-man show of political theatrics was enough to hold up the bill for at least 11 days and could delay the release of funds for considerably longer.

You could say he learned from the master, though. Roy was the Chief of Staff for Ted Cruz, who led a 16-day government shutdown in 2013 over Obamacare. Cruz voted to approve this aid package, by the way.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was incensed at this turn of events. Being a politician operating in polarized times though, she expanded the blame to more than Roy.

“House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” she said. “Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need.”

Let’s be clear about something.

That “urgent need” has been there in the Panhandle since Michael roared ashore last fall. It has been there for longer in Texas and Puerto Rico, which had widespread devastation in 2017.

But people whose homes are reduced to splinters become pawns for political theatrics because they can’t fight back. Cruz, remember, voted against a $51 billion aid package for New Jersey in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

So did Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Cotton was even more cynical, asking aloud why his state should have to bail out another. South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham also turned thumbs-down on aid requests for Sandy, but he changed his tune when floods devasted his home state.

It’s nothing but damned posturing with people’s lives so they can say they are more conservative than the others. There is no sense of national unity because of people like Chip Roy. When disasters like Michael or Harvey strike, nothing should be more important to both political parties than speeding whatever relief is necessary as quickly as possible.

Stop being politicians and try becoming human beings, if you’re capable.

That’s something to ponder as we commemorate Memorial Day. We honor those who put others ahead of themselves to defend America. Those extraordinary individuals understood words like duty, honor, and unity.

They have been wet, cold and hungry.

These people are the first ones to help and the last to leave. They would do so without fanfare.

Chip Roy, R-Clueless, could remember them the next time he goes looking for cameras and a microphone after a hurricane. Playing a game with people’s lives is out of bounds. These are real people, and Chip, you’re a real jerk.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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