Abbott Says Safety at Home is Chief Concern
in Post from Asia as Beryl Takes Aim at State

Capitol Inside
July 7, 2024

Governor Greg Abbott sought on Sunday to assure his constituents that he hasn't abandoned them in a time of crisis with a trip to the Republic of China and other Asian countries while Hurricane Beryl bears down on Texas with coastal evacuations already under way.

"While I am in Taiwan, South Korea & Japan working on business deals worth billions, I remain in daily contact with Texas Division of Emergency Management & local officials to ensure preparation for Hurricane Beryl," the Republican governor said this morning in a post on X. "Your safety is our top concern."

Abbott followed up the social media message on his absence during the potentially deadly summer storm with a post an hour later on emergency workers preparing to fan out to areas that are expected to feel the brunt of Beryl. The Associated Press reported today that Beryl developed into a Category 5 hurricane faster than any storms in the Atlantic Ocean before it. Beryl claimed 11 lives or more as it tore through the Caribbean while taking aim at the Lone Star State where landfall is expected on Monday.

Abbott's economic development mission began on Friday when emergency operations were getting under way on the Texas coast and nearby areas. Corpus Christi was getting raked by high winds and rains as residents were fleeing beach towns and other coastal locations where weather experts warned them to be prepared for the worst.

“We’re seeing the outer bands of Beryl approach the Texas coast now and the weather should be going downhill especially this afternoon and evening,” National Hurricane Center official Eric Blake said today. “People should definitely be in their safe space by nightfall and we’re expecting the hurricane to make landfall somewhere in the middle Texas coast overnight.”

Capitol Inside noted the striking similarities between Abbott's Asian excursion and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's escape to the Mexican Caribbean resort of Cancun during a record freeze in 2021. But there are differences as well - including the fact that Abbott didn't take the trip to Asia on the spur of the moment to get out of Texas until the weather improved like Cruz did in the height of Winter Storm Uri three years ago. The governor's office had planned the journey for weeks or months in advance. Abbott had a delegation with one or two dozen economic development officials accompany him on the pilgrimage to Asia.

They might have all been highly disappointed if Abbott had pulled the plug on the mission at the last minute to demonstrated that the health and safety of Texans really had been the governor's leading priority like he claimed on Sunday. Abbott published two posts on the hurricane after four this morning on his efforts in Taiwan.

Abbott contended in a X post on Saturday that billions of dollars are at stake with his work across the globe. That means there's no guarantee that the trip will culminate in any new investment for expanded development in Texas. Abbott's mission is a gamble as a consequence.

Abbott's belated interest in the hurricane raised the specter that he doesn't think Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick can do a credible job of directing the state response to Beryl in his place as the acting governor. Patrick - like Abbott does in the face of dangerous weather events when he's in the state - will be relying 100 percent on emergency disaster officials and law enforcement. .

Disaster management hasn't been Abbott's forte as the state's top leader. The governor has been prone to panic in the midst of severe weather disasters - having blamed windmills for the Texas power grid collapse at the outset of the Uri freeze after warning coastal residents to evacuate at the eleventh hour for Hurricane Harvey in 2017 when local officials were urging them to stay put. Texans will hope Patrick learned some basic lessons from the state top leader's mistakes.

more to come ...







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