President Donald Trump flew into storm-ravaged Texas Tuesday in a show of solidarity and leadership in the face of the deadly devastation wrought by Harvey — as the battered US Gulf Coast braces for even more torrential rain.
Four days after Harvey slammed onshore as a monster Category Four hurricane, turning roads to rivers in America’s fourth-largest city, emergency crews are still racing to reach hundreds of stranded people in a massive round-the-clock rescue operation.
Eager to strike a unifying tone as the country faces the first natural disaster of his presidency, Trump landed with first lady Melania in the coastal city of Corpus Christi, which bore the full brunt of Harvey’s fury, for a briefing by state and federal officials leading the relief effort.
Emerging from the meeting held inside a local fire house, Trump climbed up on a ladder for an impromptu address to the mix of supporters and banner-waving protesters gathered outside.
“We love you, you are special, we are here to take care of you,” the president called out. “It’s historic, its epic, but I tell you, it happened in Texas — and Texas can handle anything.”
Trump earlier expressed hope the Harvey response would come to be seen as a textbook case.
“We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it,” he said.
The US leader was not planning to visit Houston — swathes of which remain under water — and his spokeswoman said his schedule would be fine-tuned to avoid disrupting ongoing recovery efforts.
But he was nevertheless seeking to make a political statement, learning from the mistakes of former Republican leader George W. Bush, whose response to Hurricane Katrina — which walloped New Orleans exactly 12 years ago — was widely seen as botched.