President Donald Trump on Tuesday witnessed the devastation from Hurricane Harvey and the deadly floods and torrential rains that have displaced tens of thousands of people in Texas and the Gulf Coast region, The Hill reports.
The President and first lady Melania Trump visited Corpus Christi and Austin for meetings with government officials and to survey the damage, as search-and-rescue operations were in full swing across the state and in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, under water.
“This was of epic proportions, nobody has ever seen anything like this,” Trump said from the Annaville Fire Station in Corpus Christi, lamenting the devastation that officials say will take months and years to overcome.
“The sad thing is that this is long term. Nobody has ever seen anything like this and nobody has ever seen this much water. The wind was pretty horrific, but the water has never been seen like this to the extent. And it’s maybe someday going to disappear. We keep waiting,” Trump noted.
Addressing the crowd after the Corpus Christi meeting, Trump stressed that “Texas can handle anything.”
Key members of Trump’s Cabinet and White House team traveled with him, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, small business administrator Linda McMahon and chief of staff John Kelly.
“We want to do it better than ever before. We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it,” Trump added.
Trump did not visit Houston, where search-and-rescue operations are underway, and the White House’ explanation for this was that “he wants to be very cautious about making sure that any activity doesn’t disrupt any of the recovery efforts that are still ongoing.”
Fifteen people have died from incidents related to the storm so far, including a Houston police officer who drowned while trying to get to work. Authorities expect the death toll will rise significantly once floodwaters decrease and search-and-rescue efforts turn to recovery.
About 500,000 are expected to seek disaster assistance, and in a Monday interview with a Houston radio station, Vice President Pence said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has a $3 billion disaster relief fund, would have adequate money to cover the costs.
Trump on Tuesday also acknowledged that the natural disaster would be enormously expensive for the federal government.
“It’s going to be a costly proposition. I think we’ll come through with the right solution. But probably there’s never been anything so expensive in our country’s history, there’s never been anything so historic in terms of damage and in terms of ferocity with what we witnessed with Harvey,” Trump noted.