HAVELOCK, NC — President Trump arrived in North and South Carolina on Wednesday to survey damage inflicted by Hurricane Florence, now blamed for 27 deaths, as rescuers continue to search for those in need of rescuing from flood waters.
Trump gave remarks around 10:30 a.m. at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point alongside a panel of federal, state and local leaders. The Marine Corps air base is about two hours north of Wilmington.
“Some of the flooding is actually epic, hard to believe,” Trump said. Acknowledging North Carolina leaders, he applauded the preparation prior to the storm’s strike. “The planning that went into this is beyond belief, he said. “[It’s] something special,” he said.
“To the families that lost loved ones, our hearts break for you, Trump said. “Your entire American family is with you. You will recover.”
At least 2,200 people and almost 600 animals have been rescued from flood waters, according to state officials. Tuesday, 16 rivers in the state were listed as being at major flood stage, including the Lumber, Cape Fear and Neuse rivers, all of which were expected to peak Wednesday and Thursday.
“Our rivers are still cresting and there is still danger for some people. We’re hoping that they can get evacuated,” NC Gov. Roy Cooper told Trump during the televised briefing.
“Our state took a gut punch,” and is still reeling, Cooper said. “We lost 27 lives,” farmers have lost crops, businesses are closed and people have lost their homes, Cooper said. More than 10,000 people remain in shelters, he said.
“Mr. President, we’ve got a long road ahead,” Cooper said.
Cooper is urging all residents who have Florence storm damage to reach out to FEMA. Anyone with a home damaged by Florence can begin the FEMA registration process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA to register via telephone or by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov to register online.
After the briefing on the recovery effort in North Carolina, Trump, wearing a wind-breaker and open-collared shirt and slacks, helped hand out hot dogs and chips at a Baptist church in New Bern, the riverfront city that experienced severe flooding. The president leaned over and checked in with people as they drove through to pick up food.
Later in the day, he visited South Carolina.
Trump made his whirlwind tour through the Carolinas five days after the storm, which was blamed for at least 37 deaths in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. North and South Carolina both backed Trump in the 2016 election, and the president largely saw people who were happy to greet him
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Some information for this story came via the Associated Press
Main image: President Donald Trump visits a house where a boat wash ashore in the backyard while touring a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in New Bern, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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