Trump meets with Harvey evacuees, volunteers in Houston

Posted on: September 2nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

(HOUSTON) — As the Texas Gulf Coast reels from the damage and flooding from Hurricane Harvey, President Donald Trump returned to the state on Saturday to meet with families whose lives have been upended and volunteers assisting with the rescue and recovery efforts.

After arriving in Houston early on Saturday afternoon, Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited with those displaced by the storm at the city’s NRG Stadium, which is serving as a relief center. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner were at the airport to greet Air Force One, and is joining the president as he visits with evacuees and volunteers.

During the stadium visit, the president at one point chatted with members of the press, and spoke optimistically about the recovery effort and what he’s seen, saying, “Things are working out well,” and that the recovery effort has been a “beautiful thing” for the country.

“They were just happy. We saw a lot of happiness,” the president said of his interactions with storm victims. “It’s been really nice, it’s been a wonderful thing. … As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing, I think, even for the country to watch and the world to watch. It’s been beautiful.”

Asked about whether he saw damage and flooding from his window as he traveled, Trump said “There’s a lot of water, but it’s leaving pretty quickly. But there’s a lot of water.”

As Trump walked around the center, he stopped to chat with victims and volunteers, posing for selfies and flashing his signature thumbs-up for the cameras. The first area that the president visited seemed to be a play area for children. At one point, a young child ran up to the president and gave him a hug. A few other kids joined in, and the president lifted one up in his arms for a moment.

Trump also spoke of the letter the White House sent to the Congress Friday night formally requesting $7.85 billion from Congress for Harvey response efforts, saying that he was hopeful that the funds will be approved quickly. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office said the House will vote on Harvey funding next week.

Throughout the visit, the first lady could also be seen hugging, smiling and speaking with victims.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Acting Homeland Security Elaine Duke are along for the trip, as are chief of staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert.

This is Trump’s second trip to Texas since Harvey rammed into the southeast part of the state on Aug. 25. On Tuesday, he visited Corpus Christi and Austin, but opted to spend time with state and local officials rather than meeting hurricane survivors or touring the damage firsthand.

Harvey is the first natural disaster Trump has had to respond to during his presidency. He has also pledged to give $1 million from his personal funds to help disaster relief in Texas and Louisiana, according to the White House.

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