The hurricane has been classified as one of the worst storms in U.S. history.
Donald Trump told Texans at a rally in Dallas on Thursday that they were better off today than when he took office, because, among other things, they had received "billions and billions of dollars" in federal disaster relief aid after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the state in 2017.
Democrats in the state have since criticized those comments as shameful.
"You made a fortune on the hurricane!" Trump told his laughing supporters on Thursday night, before complaining that Texas officials had pressed him for even more funding to build a dam.
"They say it's only $10 billion. I'm supposed to be happy. 'Oh let's see. Can we give Texas an extra $10 billion for some crazy thing that may work or may not?'" he added.
The Dallas Morning News characterized it as an attempt at a joke, though CNN fact-checkers rejected both Trump's claim and the paper's characterization.
Harvey was one of the worst storms in U.S. history, causing dozens of fatalities and an estimated $125 billion in damages — and many Texans are still recovering financially from severe losses due to the storm.
Whether or not Trump was joking, Texas Democrats did not find it funny.
— Joaquin Castro (@Castro4Congress) October 18, 2019
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) tweeted simply, "What the?" before asking whether Texas Gov. Greg Abbott approved of Trump's comments. Abbott has not yet responded to the tweet.
The state Democratic party was more blunt, tweeting, "Texans lost everything after Hurricane Harvey. Shame on you, Donald Trump."
"I didn’t know disasters made money for people," state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D) told the Dallas Morning News. "It’s insensitive to think there is a silver lining in a disaster when people still can not get back in their homes."
In a blistering press statement, state party chair Gilberto Hinojosa called Trump's comments "absolutely shameful."
"Texans lost everything because of Hurricane Harvey. Two years after Harvey hit, there are still Texans who haven’t been able to return home," he said. "If Donald Trump thinks Texans made a 'fortune' off of Hurricane Harvey, he should get out of his Florida resort and meet with Texans still living in FEMA trailers because their homes were destroyed."
Hinojosa noted that Abbott, Sen. John Cornyn, and other Texas Republicans had been silent so far on Trump's comments.
Trump was criticized for his aloof response following Harvey, as well as his flippant behavior in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico. Trump also repeatedly attacked the island in the wake of that storm, disparaging local leaders and suggesting he'd helped them more than other hurricane-ravaged areas, despite evidence to the contrary.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.