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.
As he puts on plastic gloves to serve food at NRG Stadium…President Trump turns to press and says: "My hands are too big!" pic.twitter.com/WIUTLOS4XD
— Pat Ward (@WardDPatrick) September 2, 2017
Leaving the shelter, Trump told the survivors and gathered reporters to “have a good time.”
"Have a good time, everybody" – Trump in Houston just now pic.twitter.com/pAk240vnMO
— Dave Dameshek (@Dameshek) September 2, 2017
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.