Trump hands out hugs and hotdogs to distressed victims of Hurricane Florence, says: "America grieves with you"
The US commander-in-chief sought to introduce a moment of assurance amid the devastation as he told residents of the Carolinas: 'Our hearts break for you'.
President Donald Trump comforted victims of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas on Wednesday, handing out hot dogs and hugs to those affected as he surveyed the wreckage left behind by the calamity. According to the Associated Press, Trump struck a perfect balance between comforter and cheerleader for residents who were still recovering from the widespread destruction and injury from the torrential rains.
Donning a wind-breaker during the busy day, the commander-in-chief distributed meals at a church, offered hugs and handshakes, walked amid piles of broken furniture strewn across the damaged streets, and discussed the response measures taken with both local as well as state officials.
During a briefing at a marine base in Havelock, NC, the POTUS said, “America grieves with you and our hearts break for you. God bless you. We will never forget your loss. We will never leave your side. We’re with you all the way.”
Trump also showed glimpses of his former role as a real estate tycoon, asking about the status of Lake Norman, where he owns a golf club. He told officials, “I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.” Cracking jokes with distressed residents who crowded around him for support, he spoke to one family who had a large yacht wash up against their house during the floods. “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal,” he quipped. “What’s the law? Maybe it becomes theirs.”
It was five days after the storm, which claimed the lives of at least 37 in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, when Trump made the welfare tour through the Carolinas. Both the states backed his candidacy in the 2016 presidential race. Throngs of supporters expressed their joy at his visit, with one man telling the president he named his dog after him.
The president handed out hot dogs and chips at a Baptist church in New Bern shortly after briefing on the recovery effort in North Carolina. As the people drove through to pick up food, Trump leaned over and checked in with each and every one of them.
“How’s the house?” he asked one person. “You take care of yourself,” he said.
He showered praise on the rescue teams and volunteers before one young helper asked if he could hug him. Trump embraced him with open arms and commended his work, telling his parents, "You did a good job."
Today, President Trump visited the Carolinas and thanked the local officials and first responders who have worked tirelessly to provide relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 20, 2018
More in 1600 Daily: https://t.co/A68ueVC88u pic.twitter.com/NGHPT3cLjQ
As the president walked through the disheveled neighborhood, there were waterlogged mattresses, sofa cushions, and fallen trees piled up along the way. He shook people's hands amid cheers and whistles from his supporters. “Is everybody OK?” he asked those crowded around him, assuring them it was “going to be OK.”
“Lot of money coming from Washington,” he promised. According to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who spoke at the Horry County’s emergency operations center, the storm had likely been the worst disaster experienced by the state in its history. However, there was more to come, he said. “The rain and the water you see out there now is just the beginning,” he said. “The worst is yet to come.” The president concurred, but reassured those around him that he and Washington are "with you."
“Now it looks nice, but it’s really the calm before the storm,” he said.
"Can I have a hug?"— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 19, 2018
President Trump hugs boy while distributing meals to those affected by Hurricane Florence in North Carolinapic.twitter.com/oxWV2vxBWQ
Trump posted a video message a couple of hours later, saying, "I just want to thank all of the incredible men and women who have done such a great job in helping with Florence. This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we have seen from the standpoint of water. 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 affected areas - you've been incredible. There has been a loss of life and may God be with them and their families. That is a tough one, it is tough to understand, but this has been a really difficult time for a lot of people."
He said the efforts of the FEMA and the military "in saving so many lives has been really something special."
“President Donald J. Trump’s Administration is Providing Support to Those Impacted by Hurricane Florence” https://t.co/3neafSgQ1h— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2018
"I just want to thank everybody for doing such a great job with a very difficult situation, Florence has been a nasty one, a big one, like that area has certainly never seen before," he said. "The waters are still rising, listen to your state and local authorities, be patient, be alert, and God bless you."