Of Michael And Money

To date I’m not aware of any grade President Trump has given himself on Hurricane Michael. Based on his self-evaluation in the wake of Hurricane Maria, it will probably be an “A” followed by multiple pluses. I’d like to discuss a factor that didn’t get much press along with a personal note and a political observation. Let’s explore.

The weather forecasters had the storm heading for Florida’s panhandle region. That is home to Tyndall Air Force Base. The base hosts a plethora of F-22 fighter jets which cost $339 million each. Now the logical thing to do is fly the planes out of harm’s way before the storm hits. It is a simple risk/reward decision. The planes cannot fly in 100 mile per hour plus winds and if they stay put they could be damaged. No reward, possible significant risk. Some of the F-22’s were in fact redeployed but many were left in hangers on the base. According to a report from the Military Times between 4 and 12 of them sustained damage when Michael’s winds destroyed the hangers. In fact, it appears Michael did more damage to Tyndall than Trump’s Tomahawk missile attack did to the Syrian airbase. If the planes were total losses (which they were not) that means we are looking at a cost of between $1.3 and a bit over $4 trillion dollars. Any loss to the planes was totally avoidable with prudent action and planning.

If the federal government were a publically held corporation someone in the executive suite would be getting fired. So what did the “CEO” do? President Trump refused to alter his schedule and went right ahead with a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. I have been to both Erie, Pennsylvania and the Florida panhandle; they are very far away from each other. Trump made a comment along the lines of he couldn’t disappoint his fans. Not for the first time, Trump proved he lacks management skills and the ability to take responsibility.

Land access to many of the effected communities was almost non-existent in the immediate aftermath of the storm. If you knew anything about the Florida panhandle that would not be surprising. The obvious tool needed for the job was helicopters. Who has more helicopters than the federal government, especially in the military? Were all available helicopters pre-positioned in the region? It doesn’t appear so. Who dropped the ball on this one, Trump or Florida Governor Rick “The Fifth” Scott or maybe both? Was Trump too busy simultaneously distracting from his poor performance and the surrounding scandals while feeding his fragile ego? Was Scott more concerned with his Senate campaign than protecting his constituents? Or are they both simply that incompetent and surrounded by equally incompetent loyalists?

For the second time in about a month I found myself on the periphery of a major hurricane and again I was very fortunate. During Florence I lost power for about 15 minutes. Michael caused about a four hour power loss. Some trees went down in the wind and there was significant rain but by the time Michael passed through the Raleigh area it was just a bad day long storm.

I’m doing fine. Trump is another story!

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