Trump Cites ‘Happiness’ At Texas Shelter As Harvey Death Toll Climbs

President Donald Trump and Melania Trump pass out food and meet people impacted by Hurricane Harvey during a visit to the NRG Center in Houston, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. The Trumps will also make a stop in Lake Charles, La., to meet with people at an emergency operations center. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh/AP

President Donald Trump returned to the Houston area on Saturday to meet with survivors of Hurricane Harvey and participate in relief efforts—which he did not do during his first visit to the disaster-stricken region earlier this week.

In a visit to one of Houston’s designated emergency refuge areas, the NRG Center, Trump told reporters he is seeing “a lot of happiness.”

“It’s been really nice,” he said, according to the traveling press pool. “It’s been a wonderful thing. As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing, I think even for the country to watch it and for the world to watch. It’s been beautiful.”

The president also said of the children he visited who had been displaced by the storm, “They’re doing great.”

When asked about the devastating flooding still covering much of the region, he replied: “The flooding? Oh, yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of water, but it’s leaving pretty quickly. But there’s a lot of water, a lot of water, but it’s moving out.”

While handing out meals to survivors of the flood, Trump paused to inform the press that his hands were too big for the sanitary plastic gloves.

Leaving the shelter, Trump told the survivors and gathered reporters to “have a good time.”

In a subsequent visit to the First Church of Pearland in the Houston suburbs, Trump reminded flood survivors that he had declared Sunday a national day of prayer.

“So go to your church and pray and enjoy the day,” he said.

Trump’s light-hearted tone contrasted sharply with reports from the ground, where the death toll continues to climb.

On Saturday morning, the AP reported, authorities found and elderly woman floating face-down in water in her flooded home in Port Arthur, Texas. Her death brings the count of Harvey’s fatalities to at least 47, a number that could increase exponentially as floodwaters recede in the coming days.

At least 75 local schools are too damaged by the storm to open this fall, meaning more than 10,000 school children will be displaced.

Additionally, dozens of toxic waste storage sites in the Houston area have flooded, raising fears that dangerous chemicals could spread around the region, contaminating local wildlife and the water supply.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.
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