AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — President Donald Trump will make a stop in Austin during his trip to survey the disaster in Texas Tuesday. He is also expected to return to the disaster area in Texas Saturday, but the president’s press secretary did not specify an exact location.
The president and first lady arrived in Corpus Christi just after 11 a.m., where they were greeted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his wife. The president came out wearing a white USA baseball cap, while First Lady Melania Trump wore a black baseball cap that read “FLOTUS.” They were followed by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and chief of staff John Kelly.
The motorcade then made their way to the Annaville Fire Department where they were briefed on relief efforts with local leadership and relief organizations. In front of the fire house, there were a couple of hundred of onlookers, some with American flags.
“About 10 days in advance of the hurricane, even coming in to the Corpus Christi area, members of the president’s cabinet and the president himself were in contact with me and my office pre-preparing for this catastrophe coming our way,” said Abbott. “Every step of the way as the hurricane came across the shore, as the flooding began in Houston, Texas, the president and his cabinet remained in constant contact with me and my staff, and they all had one thing to say. Texas, what do you need? how can we help?”
Trump noted he didn’t want to congratulate anyone yet, but expressed hope that the response to Harvey would be seen as a textbook case.
As he was leaving the fire station, he held up the Texas flag to loud cheers. Just before 1:30 p.m., Trump boarded Air Force One to head to Austin. Abbott along with Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn were also on the plane.
Air Force One landed in Austin around 2:19 p.m. Trump gave a quick salute before waving to the cameras and climbing into the motorcade.
In Austin, President Trump and the first lady got a tour of the DPS Emergency Operations Center. While there, he praised the team’s tremendous love and coordination.
“I will tell you, the whole country and the whole world is really seeing and gaining such respect for everybody. The job you have done is incredible, what we have done is under circumstances, I said before, the word ‘epic’ and ‘historic’, these are words used to describe this monster known as Harvey, but the job you have done is special.”
Outside the center was a sizable anti-Trump demonstration, with signs saying “Nyet” and “Impeach little hands.”
The president’s motorcade left the center just before 4 p.m. to make its way back to the airport. By 4:30 p.m., the plane was en route back to Washington.
Trump may make a return trip to the state on Saturday.
Administrations often tread carefully in planning visits to disaster-ravaged areas. Mobilizing a president, his staff and his security is an enormous logistical undertaking and can pull local law enforcement resources away from the disaster recovery efforts. But Trump hasn’t been cowed.
Aides said it was Trump who pushed for the White House to make his desire to travel to Texas known early. He won’t be visiting Houston, where flooding has wreaked havoc on the nation’s fourth-largest city.
“Conditions haven’t cleared in Houston yet so probably not appropriate for him to go up there, probably not safe for him to go up there,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. “But I do think having your own eyes on the devastation that I have seen is important.”