President Donald Trump’s decision to doctor a map of Hurricane Dorian to make it incorrectly appear as though it was a direct threat to Alabama was widely ridiculed — but it had a real-world impact on the agencies in charge of monitoring and responding to natural disasters.
Emails obtained by the Daily Beast show that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service were both thrown into chaos after the president showed off his bogus hurricane map in the Oval Office.
“One top official said that workers directly involved in handling hurricane response were forced to turn their cell phones off because of the influx of media calls seeking an explanation for the president’s tweets and his accompanying efforts to prove he’d been right about Alabama all along,” the Daily Beast reports.
Chris Darden, the meteorologist-in-charge at a National Weather Service office in Alabama, said in one email that “this has really gotten out of hand,” referring to the president’s false claims about Hurricane Dorian.
Under pressure from the president, the NOAA eventually put out an unsigned statement that falsely insisted that Trump was correct about Alabama being in the path of the hurricane. According to the internal emails, this badly hurt morale within the agency.
“The statement is deeply upsetting to NOAA employees that have worked the hurricane and not fully accurate based on the timeline in question,” wrote one NOAA programmer to a public affairs officer.