Editor’s note: As Texas Standard first reported on September 11, 2018, The Houston Chronicle investigated work done by its Austin-based reporter Mike Ward. Issues had been raised about the accuracy of his reporting and possible fabrication of sources. On November 8, 2018 The Chronicle published the results of that investigation. Of the eight stories The Houston Chronicle is retracting, Texas Standard interviewed Ward about one of them. Please be advised the reporting this interview is based on contained the views of four individuals who could not be identified in the Chronicle’s investigation.
As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas approaches, there are questions about whether the federal and state response to the storm will play a role in the midterm elections. In the first stages of recovery, state leaders, and local officials in towns hit hard by the storm expressed anger over what they felt was a delayed response from federal and Texas government. But as time goes by, and more people have gotten back to a new normal, and it may be that those sentiments are not as strong.
Mike Ward has been writing about the political fallout of Harvey and the midterms for the Houston Chronicle. He says that in his conversations with more than three dozen people affected by the storm, attitudes toward the state’s Republican leaders have grown less negative over time.
“The people who were Harvey victims were almost evenly mad at Democrats [and] Republicans. They didn’t care,” Ward says.
Harvey victims blamed incumbent politicians for slow response from FEMA and delayed compensation checks, among other things. And they were mad at politicians at all levels of government.
“I would say there was more directed at the local and federal [governments], just because those are the two where most of the money and the direct assistance came from,” Ward says. “But there were a lot of people who were mad at state officials who didn’t really have anything to do with the hurricane recovery, per se.”
Ward says the decrease in anger at government officials coincided with Harvey-affected residents being able to return to their homes.
“They got the checks,” he says. “The checks cashed.”
In areas where Harvey hit hardest, Ward says, some residents are still angry, and planning to vote against officials they see as responsible for their plight.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.