HAVELOCK, N.C. — President Trump traveled to the storm-tossed Carolinas on Wednesday, swooping in to inspect a landscape transformed by howling winds, torrential rains and swollen rivers.
Mr. Trump arrived in time to see the soggy aftermath of Hurricane Florence, whose water has proved more devastating than the wind itself. Sixteen rivers in North Carolina are in major flood stage, according to the state’s governor, Roy Cooper, with major highways impassable and the city of Wilmington still largely cut off from the outside world by floodwaters.
“He wanted to see the areas hit the hardest, most impacted by the flooding,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said. “He also wanted to meet with the people from those areas.”
Ms. Sanders said Mr. Trump would “get a full overview from state and local officials in both states.” The White House declined to release a detailed itinerary for the president in advance, but based on past such trips, he can be expected to tour badly hit neighborhoods in North and South Carolina.
Mr. Trump landed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, on the Neuse River. The Neuse swamped the nearby city of New Bern and is now threatening inland cities like Fayetteville and Kinston. In New Bern, a picturesque town of gracious houses with river views, rescuers plucked more than 200 people from the rising waters.
Mr. Trump brought along a big delegation, including four Republican senators: Richard Burr and Thom Tillis from North Carolina, and Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott from South Carolina. The secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen; the budget director, Mick Mulvaney; and the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, were also on Air Force One.
The president clearly relishes visits to storm-ravaged places. There are urgent briefings by state and local officials, usually accompanied by charts and abundant gratitude for the strong support from Washington. There are dramatic helicopter tours over waterlogged landscapes, and photo-ready visits to battered neighborhoods, where Mr. Trump often banters with the residents as if he were still on the campaign trail.
But these visits have also produced some memorably off-key moments. Last summer, the first lady, Melania Trump, raised eyebrows when she emerged from the White House in needle-thin heels for a visit to Texas after Hurricane Harvey (she later changed into sneakers). Mrs. Trump did not accompany her husband on Wednesday.