President Trump and first lady Melania Trump touched down in Texas on Tuesday to survey damage from the catastrophic rain and flooding that has displaced tens of thousands of people in the Gulf Coast region of the country.
Trump is visiting Corpus Christi, a coastal town near where Hurricane Harvey first made landfall Friday night. Trump is about four hours southwest of Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city, which is in the midst of massive search-and-rescue operations after flooding.
The president waved to cameras as he exited Air Force One wearing a white windbeaker and dark hat. The first lady was at his side wearing a black windbreaker and white hat. The couple boarded a black SUV that will take them to meetings with state and local officials.
Corpus Christi has not sustained the same level of flooding and damage as Houston or other coastal towns, but the president’s travel options are limited by the floods and the White House has indicated it is eager not to interfere with the work being done by emergency responders.
“The president wants to be very cautious about making sure that any activity doesn’t disrupt any of the recovery efforts that are still ongoing, which is the reason for the locations we are going here today,” spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One.
“As of right now, I don’t know that we will be able to get to some of the really damaged areas.”
Trump brought many key members of his Cabinet and White House team on the trip, 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, chief of staff John Kelly, deputy chiefs Joe Hagin and Kirstin Nielsen, and senior advisers Dina Powell and Marc Short.
“The first part of the trip and one of the main, primary reasons for secretaries Price, Secretary Carson and Administrator McMahon [being here], each of their agencies will play a really big role particularly in the recovery efforts going forward, and today they will be with their counterparts of the governor’s Cabinet, so that they can really come back and make sure that we are all in to offer federal assistance and lay the foundation for what we know is going to be a long recovery effort,” Sanders said.
“Those are agencies that will have a pretty heavy lift in this process and so we want to make sure that they have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with, with not just the state, but also the local authorities.”
Trump will receive a briefing on search-and-rescue efforts from local officials and relief organizations in the area. In Corpus Christi, Trump will meet with Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Brock Long.
The president also has meetings with House members and local mayors, the White House said.
From there, Trump will go to Austin, Texas’s capital, where he’ll tour emergency operations and receive a second briefing from state leaders.
Trump is looking to take a hands-on approach to the hurricane and has said he may visit neighboring Louisiana and return for a second swing through Texas this weekend.
Fifteen people have died from incidents related to the tropical storm so far. Authorities expect the death toll will rise significantly once flood waters recede and search-and-rescue efforts turn to recovery.