Ahead of his visit, the president tweeted a video Tuesday night thanking those involved in the relief efforts.
“I just want to thank all of the men and women who’ve done such a great job in helping with Florence. This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water,” said the commander in chief, 72.
The president continued: “Rarely have we had an experience like it, and it certainly is not good. But the people of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, all of the areas affected, you’ve been incredible. There’s been a loss of life. May God be with them and their families. That’s a tough one — it’s tough to understand, but this has been a really difficult period of time for a lot of people.”
Trump went on to praise the work of FEMA, the coast guard and law enforcement, who’ve saved “so many lives” since the storm made landfall on Friday. He also advised residents in the area to continue listening to state and local authorities and to “be patient and alert” because “the waters are still rising.”
During Wednesday’s visit to North Carolina, the president spoke at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in the eastern part of the state, near New Bern, one of the towns most devastated by Florence, The L.A. Times reports.
He received a briefing from state and local officials and gave another statement about relief efforts, according to National Public Radio.
“We’re ready … to do whatever we have to do to make this perfect,” the president said, adding, “Nearly 20,000 federal and military personnel are supporting response efforts… More than 1.6 million meals have been delivered.”
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Trump continued: “People don’t realize how a very difficult phase is beginning today, with the beautiful sunshine… We’ll have it all taken care of.”
According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Jackie Calmes, Trump reportedly asked an official during the briefing, “How is Lake Norman doing?” After he was told it was fine, the president reportedly responded, “I love that area. I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.” As Calmes noted, there is a Trump National Golf Club on the lake.
Also at Cherry Point, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper spoke of a state in deep mourning, according to CNN. “Our people are still reeling,” Cooper said. “We have lost 27 lives officially so far, and more are under investigation. We mourn their loss.”
The governor continued, “We have weathered storms before in our state. Mr. President, [but] we have never seen one like this. This one has been epic. It has been disastrous. And it has been widespread.”
The president also visited a Baptist church in New Bern surrounded by downed trees, CNN reported.