President Donald Trump will visit hurricane-ravaged Texas on Tuesday, the White House announced Sunday afternoon.
“We are coordinating logistics with state and local officials, and once details are finalized, we will let you know,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “We continue to keep all of those affected in our thoughts and prayers.”
Earlier Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott heaped praise on the federal government’s response to Hurricane Harvey, and Trump convened administration leaders to discuss the recovery from the storm that battered the Texas coast over the weekend and continues to drop deluging rain on the Houston area.
Their efforts came as it became clear that the situation was bad and could possibly get much worse.
The National Weather Service wrote on Twitter Sunday morning: “This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”
The NWS also projected that rainfall in some areas could reach a staggering 50 inches, and television footage indicated that much of the Galveston-Corpus Christi-Houston region of Texas was beset by extensive flooding..
Amid the dire warnings, Abbott praised the response to the crisis.
“I’ve got to tell you, I give FEMA a grade of A+, all the way from the president down. I’ve spoken to the president several times, to his Cabinet members, such as secretary of homeland security, such as the administrator of FEMA, such as Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services,” Abbott told Fox anchor Chris Wallace. “All across the board, from the White House to the federal administration to FEMA, they’ve been very helpful.”
Abbott also deployed members of the state’s National Guard.
Trump held a Cabinet meeting Sunday with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the gravity of the situation. “President Trump continued to stress his expectation that all departments and agencies stay fully committed to supporting the Governors of Texas and Louisiana and his No. 1 priority of saving lives,” the White House said in a statement released afterward.
Hurricane Harvey first made landfall along the Gulf Coast on Friday night, slamming into the barrier islands near Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 storm. Harvey has since moved northeast along the Texas coast, dropping significant amounts of rain on the Houston area, which can be particularly prone to flooding. The storm is expected to move very slowly and continue dumping rain on the already inundated region through the end of next week.
Abbott said reports he’d seen indicated that Houston could expect “torrential rain” from Harvey “for days to come.” The governor told Wallace: “We’re measuring rain these days not in inches but in feet.”
The Texas governor also said, in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation,” that his state had already been on the receiving end of help from neighboring states including New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and that “even as far as away as Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo in New York is providing resources for us. And so we’re very appreciative of our fellow states as well as what the federal government has done.”
Trump, who issued a disaster declaration Friday that allowed for federal help to be fully utilized in the region, has used Twitter regularly throughout the weekend to share updates and praise the work of first responders operating in the dangerous conditions. He said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long is “doing a great job” and lauded the “wonderful coordination between Federal, State and Local Governments in the Great State of Texas.”
Long, asked Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” if his agency was prepared to operate in Texas for months to come, corrected host Jake Tapper and said “FEMA is going to be there for years, sir. This disaster recovery — this disaster is going to be a landmark event.”
The president has also strayed from his storm-focused message at times, using the cover of Friday’s storm to announce a pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the departure of White House national security aide Sebastian Gorka and implementation orders for the president’s decree that transgender individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
Sunday morning, interspersed between posts related to the hurricane, Trump also previewed his upcoming trip to Missouri, a state “that I won by a lot in ’16.” (The margin was 18 percentage points.) The president also launched criticism at Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), whose 2018 reelection race is considered one of the toughest Democrats will face in the upcoming election, writing that she “is opposed to big tax cuts” and that a “Republican will win” her seat.
Trump also tweeted Sunday morning about his long-promised border wall, funding for which he has threatened to shut down the government over, writing: “With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.”
But even with the occasional diversion, Abbott was effusive in his praise of the president and his response to the hurricane.
“It’s been extremely professional, very helpful. He called and said, ‘Governor, whatever you need you’ve got,’” Abbott said of Trump’s response to the storm.
“What you will see over the coming weeks and months is a tremendous rebuilding from all this damage and a large part of that will be because of FEMA helping out. And so we are very appreciative of the way the president and the White House has responded to this catastrophe.”
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