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‚Äôs backyard.
‚ÄúIs this your boat? Or .‚ÄČ.‚ÄČ. did it become your boat?‚ÄĚ 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, ‚ÄúAt least you got a nice boat out of the deal.‚ÄĚ
Trump continued to inquire about the boat, asking a crowd of reporters, residents and handlers, ‚ÄúThat boat is wiped out, or not?‚ÄĚ and then joking,¬†‚ÄúWouldn‚Äôt want to cross the ocean in it.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúI think it‚Äôs incredible, I think it‚Äôs incredible,‚ÄĚ Trump said, according to pool reports. ‚ÄúTo see what we‚Äôre seeing ‚ÄĒ this boat, I don‚Äôt know what happened, but this boat just came here. And do you know whose boat that is? They don‚Äôt know whose boat that is.
‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs the law? Maybe it becomes theirs,‚ÄĚ he added of the resident he‚Äôd met earlier.
Trump is now facing social media criticism over the remarks, which some have called ‚Äúinsensitive‚ÄĚ and compassionless.
This isn‚Äôt 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 ‚Äúhave a good time.‚ÄĚ
But that didn‚Äôt stop him from making the same statement to Florence survivors on Wednesday.