Stunning images from a Houston freeway show cars submerged in floodwaters after Harvey.
WASHINGTONÂ â€” President Trump said Monday that he may visit the Gulf Coast two or three times this week â€” with stops in Texas and possibly Louisiana â€” to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, the worst natural disaster to hit the nation during his seven-month-old presidency.
“The spirit is incredible, of the people,” Trump said in brief comments while meeting the president of Finland at the White House. He called the storm “the biggest everÂ â€” like Texas, if you think about it.”
Trump coordinated the federal response from the presidential retreat at Camp David over the weekend, declaring a federal disaster just before the storm made landfall on Friday. He extended that disaster declaration to Louisiana on Monday as the storm headed north.
As the federal response entered its fourth day, it was Vice President Pence who was the Trump administration’s voice of disaster recovery. In interviews with Houston radio and television stations, PenceÂ sought to reassure flood victims that federal resources are already on their way.
But Pence also repeatedly emphasized that “the state is in the lead” of the disaster response.
“I remember this during my days as governor of Indiana,” he told Trey Ware, the morning host of KSTA radio in Houston on Monday. “When the rain comes down and beats against the house, and the flood waters rise and the wind blows, states are in the lead and your local first responders and local emergency managers.”
More coverage: Harvey serves as grim reminder of Katrina for New Orleans residents
Pence said theÂ federal government “has a vital role in providing support,” and he saidÂ more than 8,000 federal officials are in the Houston areaÂ and have helped to ship more than 1.2 million meals and 1Â million liters of water. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also hasÂ 10 mobile communications offices in the region.
“These moments bring out the character of our nation. We’re seeing the generosity, the compassion, the courage of the American people in high relief,” Pence told radio host Rush Limbaugh. “I mean, you have first responders who have risked life and limb to rescue families that were stranded after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.”
President Trump plans to fly to Texas on Tuesday to survey the response. The White House had not yet confirmed his exact destination as of Monday afternoon, but FEMA Director Brock Long headed to Corpus Christi on Monday and the Federal Aviation Administration notified air traffic controllers of a VIP flight into Corpus Christi onÂ Tuesday.
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