By Associated Press
Corpus Christi, Texas — President Donald Trump answered Harvey’s wrath by offering in-person assurances to those in the storm zone that his administration will work tirelessly to help the region recover from the massive flooding and storm-inflicted destruction.
“We are going to get you back and operating immediately,” Trump told an impromptu crowd that gathered outside a Corpus Christi fire station about 30 miles from where the storm made landfall Friday.
The president kept his distance from the epicenter of the damage in Houston to avoid disrupting recovery operations. But he plans to return to the region Saturday to survey the damage and meet with some of the storm’s victims, said Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Trump will change his focus Wednesday with a trip to Springfield, Missouri to kick off his lobbying effort for a tax overhaul. He will offer some broad goals, but few specifics,
During his Texas trip, Trump was eager to get the federal disaster response right, but he missed clear opportunities to strike a sympathetic note for multitudes who are suffering. The president did not mention those who died in the storm or those forced from their homes by its floodwaters. And he basked in the attention of cheering supporters outside the fire station where officials briefed him on the recovery.
“What a crowd, what a turnout,” Trump declared before waving a Texas flag from atop a step ladder positioned between two fire trucks. “This is historic. It’s epic what happened, but you know what, it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.”
Trump is clearly determined to seize the moment and show a forceful response to Harvey, mindful of the political opportunities and risks that natural disasters pose for any president. Trump has been suffering from low approval ratings and self-created crises, and the White House is eager to show him as a forceful leader in a time of trouble.
What little damage Trump saw — boarded-up windows, downed tree limbs and fences askew — was through the tinted windows of his SUV as his motorcade ferried him from the Corpus Christi airport to the firehouse in a city that’s already nearly back to normal.
Trump spoke optimistically about the pace of the recovery, and predicted his response would be a textbook case for future presidents.
Then it was on to his next stop, Austin, to meet with officials at the state emergency operations center.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Trump showed “genuine compassion” on the short flight to Austin as they watched video footage of the flooding in Houston. “The president was heartbroken by what he saw,” the governor said.
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