Texas Governor Greg Abbott Jets Off to Asia as Hurricane Beryl Lashes His State

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Texas Governor Greg Abbott boasted of having “very productive” meetings with business bigwigs in South Korea on Monday morning just as Hurricane Beryl barreled into his home state, killing at least two people.

Abbott’s nine-day jaunt to South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan is meant to “drive forward progress in industries critical to the future of the global economy,” his office said in a July 5 press release.

But he departed on Friday as forecasts showed that Beryl was likely to hit Texas on Monday. Indeed, it made landfall along the central Texas coast early Monday, according to Fox Weather, with 70-90 mph wind gusts, a life-threatening storm surge, and blackouts that left more than 2 million residents in the dark without power.

As of Monday, two people in Harris County died after Beryl caused trees to fall on their homes, authorities said.

Seemingly pre-empting any backlash, Abbott stressed on Sunday that his trip would likely bring “billions” of dollars to Texas.

“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. Your safety is our top concern,” he wrote.

This situation bears an uncanny resemblance to when Texas Senator Ted Cruz quietly jetted off to Cancun during the February 2021 winter storm that ravaged Texas. Cruz later called the trip “a mistake” and chalked his decision up to “being a dad.”

On Monday, Cruz posted a video of himself in a rain jacket, giving an update on the storm from a flooded freeway in Houston.

Meanwhile, on X on Monday morning, Abbott shared photos of his meetings with South Korean “business leaders” and Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yul. His replies were flooded with users calling out the inconvenient timing of his trip.

In a later post, Abbott did address Beryl and his absence and wrote in part, “I remain in regular contact with @TDEM & state officials.”

In a Monday interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box via satellite from Seoul, Abbott gave some insight into his trip and spoke about the storm.

“Texas has probably the top division of emergency management in the country, and I just got off the phone with the chief of that division,” Abbott said.

“We’re concerned about a... heavy rain challenge that we’re going to see in the state of Texas as well as the winds that continue to whip through the greater Houston area,” he added.

Abbott then elaborated on what he’s been up to since leaving the States.

“Texas only has, before now, one business office in another country and that’s Mexico. This past session, the Texas legislature actually passed a law establishing an office in Taiwan because we support Taiwan both as a country but also economically,” he said.

According to Abbott, his meetings in Taiwan have reinforced their already “robust” trade relationship.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment. He is expected to arrive back in Texas on July 13.

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