With Hurricane Harvey already forcing evacuations and school cancellations, President Donald Trump has issued a short statement, telling Americans in the path of the storm to be prepared. This will be the first major hurricane for the president.
“As #HurricaneHarvey intensifies – remember to #PlanAhead,” Trump – or a member of the White House staff – posted on his page. He included links to the National Hurricane Center, the Department of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). An included video has footage from Trump’s FEMA meeting earlier this month.
Harvey is expected to make landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast by Friday night into Saturday morning as a “major hurricane,” possibly a category 3. ABC News reports that the storm surge could be up to 10 feet and some areas could receive as much as 30 inches of rain. ABC News meteorologist Melissa Griffin said there is a fear that the storm could stall over southeast Texas.
“When it does make landfall, it is expected to … not move for several days, which is why we expect the rainfall to be the most devastating,” Griffin told ABC News. “Some spots could receive over 30 inches.”
There have already been evacuations ordered and Houston has cancelled August 28 classes.
Harvey will be hitting Texas a few weeks after Trump sought to ease concerns that the FEMA will not be prepared for hurricane season. On August 4, he attended a briefing at FEMA after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast an “above normal” hurricane season in 2017. Trump also met with acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, who took over after John Kelly became White House Chief of Staff.
“Natural disaster preparedness is a joint effort between state and local partners, the American people, and the federal government. We at DHS and FEMA are ready to respond quickly, efficiently, and effectively when a disaster occurs,” Duke said in a statement. “We take this responsibility seriously, and like today will continue to coordinate closely with our state and local partners to support our nation’s collective ability to respond.”
After the meeting, Trump tweeted an audio recording and photos. “FEMA is something I’ve been very much involved in already,” Trump said. Trump already has FEMA director Brock Long in place after he was confirmed by the Senate in June.
Since Duke is still leading Homeland Security in an interim position, White House Press Secretary assured reporters during her press conference today that the president has been briefed and someone is leading the process.
There’s certainly someone at the helm. … I think we are in great shape, having Gen. Kelly sitting next to the president throughout this process,” Sanders said. “The president has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses.”