Trump vis­its Austin, of­fers help to Texas

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Tilove jtilove@statesman.com

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day made his first visit to Texas since be­com­ing pres­i­dent, with stops in Cor­pus Christi and Austin to ex­press sol­i­dar­ity with the Lone Star State as Tex­ans cope with one of the “epic” dis­as­ters of our time.

He brought Cab­i­net mem­bers in tow as a to­ken of his com­mit­ment to post-Har­vey re­cov­ery and re­build­ing.

“The world is watch­ing, and the world is very im­pressed with what you are do­ing,” Trump told the sev­eral dozen emer­gency work­ers hud­dled over their lap­tops at the state’s com­mand cen­ter for the re­sponse to Hur­ri­cane Har­vey. The op­er­a­tions cen­ter is lo­cated at the Texas Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety head­quar­ters on North La­mar Boule­vard.

The pres­i­dent, ac­com­pa­nied by first lady Me­la­nia Trump, was in­tro­duced to ap­plause by Gov.

Greg Ab­bott.

“The per­son who has en­abled us to have the re­sources we need is the pres­i­dent of the United States,” Ab­bott said.

But Trump, in a short board­room meet­ing that fol­lowed with law­mak­ers,

in­clud­ing U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Ted

Cruz, R-Texas, and a num­ber of Cab­i­net mem­bers — in­clud­ing Sec­re­tary of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Ben Car­son, Sec­re­tary of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Tom Price, and Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tor Linda McMa­hon — noted the daunt­ing task ahead.

“Prob­a­bly, there’s never been any­thing so ex­pen- sive in our coun­try’s his­tory. There’s never been any­thing so his­toric in terms of dam­age and in term of fe­roc­ity as what we’ve wit­nessed with Har­vey,” the pres­i­dent said. The af­ter­math, he said, will be “a costly propo­si­tion.”

“Har­vey,” Trump said. “Sounds like such an inno- cent name. But it’s not inno- cent. It’s not in­no­cent.”

But Trump pre­dicted Mon­day that Congress would move swiftly and in a bi­parti- san fashion to come to Texas’ res­cue.

‘Of­fer my help and sup­port’

Trump, on be­half of the na­tion, of­fered moral sup­port in a time of need and promised help in what looks to be a re­cov­ery and re­build- ing process of mon­u­men­tal pro­por­tions af­ter a hur­ri­cane that left Houston, the na­tion’s fourth-largest city and an em­blem of Amer­ica’s cap­i­tal­ist and mul­ti­cul­tural dy­namism, un­der wa­ter.

The Trumps didn’t visit Houston on Tues­day; they didn’t want to get in the way of what is still a dire res­cue op­er­a­tion. But they might re­turn to Texas as soon as Satur­day.

“The ef­fects of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey will be felt in Texas, Louisiana, and other parts of

the coun­try for many months and years to come,” the first lady said in a rare state­ment, is­sued by the White House as Air Force One cut through the late af­ter­noon sum­mer sky on the way back to Wash- in­g­ton.

“So far, 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple are un­der or­ders to evac­u­ate their homes, and, as the flood­wa­ter in Houston rises, sadly, so will the num­ber of evac­uees,” the first lady said. “I want to be able to of­fer my help and sup­port in the most pro­duc­tive way possi- ble, not through just words, but also ac­tion.”

“What I found to be the most pro­found dur­ing the visit was not only the strength and re­silience of the peo­ple of Texas, but the com­pas­sion and sense of com­mu­nity that has taken over the state,” she said.

If the pres­i­dent, who wore a black-on-white USA base­ball cap, is not one for pub­lic dis­plays of em­pa­thy, Ab­bott re­ported in Austin that on the flight from Cor­pus Christi, Trump was shown videos of the dev­as­ta­tion and, “the pres­i­dent is heart­bro­ken by what he saw, and we will re­build, be­cause that’s the Amer­i­can way.”

In Austin, Trump ef­fused about the “love and co­ordi- na­tion and so many things com­ing out of Texas.”

Mu­tual praise

The day be­gan at a fire station in Cor­pus Christi’s An­nav­ille area with local of­fi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Red Cross, local util­i­ties and oth­ers in­volved in the re­cov­ery ef­fort. “This was of epic pro­por-

tions,” Trump said. “No­body has ever seen any­thing like this. And I just want to say that work­ing with the gover­nor and his en­tire team has been an honor for us.”

“So, gover­nor, again, thank you very much,” Trump said. “We won’t say con­grat­u­la­tions. We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to con­grat­u­late. We’ll con­grat­u­late each other when it’s all fin­ished.”

Ab­bott — who has been ef­fu­sive in his praise for the work of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion from the pres­i­dent on down — re­turned the com­pli­ment.

“About 10 days in ad­vance of the hur­ri­cane even com­ing

into the Cor­pus Christi area, mem­bers of the pres­i­dent’s Cab­i­net and the pres­i­dent him­self were in con­tact with me and my of­fice pre-pre­par­ing for this catas­tro­phe that was com­ing our way,” Ab­bott said. “And ev­ery step of the way, as the hur­ri­cane came across the shore, as the flood­ing be­gan in Houston, Texas, the pres­i­dent and his Cab­i­net re­mained in con­stant con­tact with me and my staff. And they all had one thing to say: ‘Texas, what do you need? How can we help? You can count on us.’ ”

“What I have learned is we can count on the pres­i­dent of the United States and his staff for help­ing Texas,” Ab­bott said.

EVAN VUCCI / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump tour the Texas Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter in Austin on Tues­day. The pres­i­dent and his wife came to Texas to as­sess Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey’s dam­age.

DOUG MILLS / NEW YORK TIMES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump (left) shakes hands with Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott on Tues­day at the state’s com­mand cen­ter for the re­sponse to Hur­ri­cane Har­vey on North La­mar Boule­vard. Trump’s visit was his first to the state as pres­i­dent.

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