President Trump sought Tuesday to blunt future criticism from Democrats about his administration’s handling of Hurricane Florence, predicting in a pair of tweets that they would soon be “ranting” despite the “great job” underway.
“Right now, everybody is saying what a great job we are doing with Hurricane Florence — and they are 100% correct,” Trump wrote. “But don’t be fooled, at some point in the near future the Democrats will start ranting that FEMA, our Military, and our First Responders, who are all unbelievable, are a disaster and not doing a good job. This will be a total lie, but that’s what they do, and everybody knows it!”
Trump’s tweets came as North Carolina is still in the midst of confronting the disaster left behind by Florence, which includes widespread flooding and a death toll that has steadily risen since the storm made landfall Friday.
Trump has repeatedly heralded his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria despite criticism from officials in Puerto Rico and a study last month that concluded that last fall’s storm resulted in nearly 3,000 “excess” deaths.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Monday said the state had confirmed 26 deaths linked to Florence, pushing the toll from the storm to 33 dead so far. South Carolina officials say six people were killed there, while Virginia authorities reported one death on Monday from an apparent tornado.
State and federal authorities continue to warn that parts of North Carolina are still facing peril, with more than a dozen rivers at flood stage and more flooding expected to come.
William “Brock” Long, the embattled FEMA administrator facing mounting questions about an investigation into his use of government vehicles, traveled to North Carolina this week and met with state officials, who praised him and his agency for their assistance.
“I’m very pleased with where we are but I know we’ve got a long way to go, because this event’s not over,” Long said at a news briefing with Cooper on Monday afternoon. He said the next two days would be critical, adding: “We realize this is going to be a big recovery mission.”
Long, who called North Carolina’s response to the storm a model for other states, said it was important for him to be on the ground to help them “overcome this hit.”
Cooper said that FEMA was continuing to spread its people across the state, saying that he and Long planned to travel to Wilmington, N.C., later Tuesday, an area that officials say has been essentially cut off by the flooding.
Cooper also said he believed there were plans for Trump to visit on Wednesday, although he added that such plans can be fluid. Cooper said he would meet with Trump when he visits the state.