A month before the election, Hurricane Matthew arrived on the East Coast and caused major damage in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. That was fresh in the mind of many voters when Trump took North Carolina, sweeping the coastal counties. Trump has rewarded this loyalty by denying 99% of the federal aid North Carolina’s government has requested. In response, Governor Roy Cooper wrote a letter to express “shock and disappointment” at the apparent back turning.
Matthew was a disaster for North Carolina: 26 people were killed, more than 2000 people had to be rescued, communities were temporarily evacuated, and the flooding caused at least $1.5 billion in damage. North Carolina, in addition to FEMA funds, requested funds to rebuild homes and public housing, shore up and elevate buildings so they wouldn’t be flooded again, get farmers back on their feet, and to support small business damaged by the flood. The total request was $929 million; the Trump administration granted just $6.1 million. It’s worth noting that this was part of a larger aid request on the part of several governors, which appears to be in limbo.
Why, precisely, only 1% of aid was granted has yet to be explained. But it will likely quickly become a problem for the Trump administration both within the state, which is stuck figuring out how to repair after historic flooding, and outside of it. The Senate Intelligence Committee, currently pursuing Michael Flynn, is led by Republican Richard Burr, who represents North Carolina. Even if this decision has nothing to do with that, it’ll be difficult for Trump to shake the appearance of spite, especially since he’s spent nearly four times as much on his weekend golf trips.