US President Donald Trump will visit storm-ravaged Texas on Tuesday, the White House said today, even as the administration ramps up its response to the most powerful hurricane to hit America in 13 years. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of destruction as it sept through Texas yesterday, pummelling the region with heavy rains and claiming at least 5 lives since making landfall on the US’ Gulf Coast.
“We are coordinating logistics with state and local officials, and once details are finalised, we will let you know,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “We continue to keep all of those affected in our thoughts and prayers,” she added.
US President Trump took to Twitter Sunday to indicate he was monitoring Tropical Storm Harvey, which continues to wreak havoc on the Texas Gulf Coast after being downgraded from a hurricane. The US president praised the “great coordination between all levels of government” and “great talent on the ground”. He also said he will visit Texas “as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption” to the ongoing emergency response.
He continued to closely monitor the situation in Texas and held a video teleconference with top officials from Camp David, where he is spending the weekend. Participants in the call included the Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff John Kelly. “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 number one priority of saving lives,” said a read out of the video conference.
“The President and Vice President continue to extend their thoughts and prayers to those affected and recognise the many volunteer and faith-based organisations dedicating time and efforts to helping fellow Americans,” it said. Trump has already declared major disaster in the state of Texas.
Meanwhile the National Weather Service called the flooding in Texas unprecedented as the State experienced a record breaking 50 inches of rain in parts of Texas. “The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before.
“Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days,” the service said in a statement.
Later yesterday, Trump held a second Cabinet meeting on Hurricane Harvey to shore up response and recovery efforts, according to the White House. The storm has hammered Texas since Friday, when it first made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. The federal government has 5,000 people on site in Texas and Louisiana, where the storm continues to bring torrential rains and flooding.
Trump, who spent Sunday morning praising the federal government’s response to Harvey in a series of tweets, “continued to stress his expectation that all departments and agencies stay fully committed to supporting the Governors of Texas and Louisiana and his number one priority of saving lives,” the statement reads.
Vice President Mike Pence in a tweet yesterday emphasised the White House statement that Trump’s top priority is saving lives. “@POTUS stressed all depts & agencies stay committed to supporting Govs of Texas & Louisiana & his number one priority of saving lives,” Pence wrote on Twitter, including a readout of the teleconference the two held earlier.
The statement adds that Trump “reminded everyone that search and rescue efforts will transition to mass care, restoring power, providing life-sustaining necessities for the population that sheltered in place, and economic recovery. He also urged those impacted by the storm to continue to heed the instructions of State and local officials.
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. Their efforts came as it became clear that the situation was bad and could possibly get much worse. Amid dire warnings, Abbott praised the response to the crisis.
The monster storm has claimed 10 lives so far. The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said recovery efforts would take years.