WASHINGTON — President Trump said the recovery from Hurricane Harvey would be "hopefully a quick process" after arriving in Texas on Saturday to tour massive damage caused by the Gulf Coast storm in Houston.
Trump and his wife, Melania, visited a relief center and mingled with victims. The Trumps are also scheduled to join members of the Texas delegation before heading to Louisiana.
"There’s a lot of water, but it’s moving out. Most importantly, the governor, the relationship with the governor, the mayor and everybody, it’s been fantastic," Trump told reporters while touring the relief center. "We’re signing a lot of documents now to get money” and it’s “going through a hopefully quick process."
Shortly after arriving in Houston, Trump took to Twitter to underscore his commitment to rebuilding efforts. "We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, and REBUILD!"
Hurricane Harvey is Trump’s first natural disaster as president and it could be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
The trip is his second to Texas since the hurricane ripped through the southeastern Gulf Coast. On Tuesday, Trump visited Corpus Christi and Austin to meet with local officials, while drawing some criticism for failing to mention the victims of the storm.
Vice President Pence later visited the area with his wife Karen to meet directly with survivors and underscore the administration's commitment to rebuilding the affected communities. On Saturday, Trump made his way through a relief center, and with television cameras in toe, was seen crouching to engage with children while hugging others and shaking hands.
On Friday Trump requested from Congress $7.9 billion in emergency spending to help Texas and Louisiana recover from the flooding disaster. It would add $7.4 billion to Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster aid coffers and $450 million to finance disaster loans for small businesses.
The request would only be a down payment on the total costs to rebuild waterlogged Houston and the surrounding area. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said the cost could exceed $125 billion, more than the $100 billion-plus price tag for Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Accompanying the president and first lady were chief of staff John Kelly, Trump's personal aide John D. McEntee II and Lindsay Reynolds, the first lady's chief of staff.
Trump has also pledged to give $1 million from his personal funds to help disaster relief, according to the White House.