President Donald Trump said his administration is “sparing no expense” to prepare for Hurricane Florence, which he described as “tremendously big and tremendously wet,” and containing “tremendous amounts of water.”
“We are totally prepared,” he said Tuesday. “We are ready as anybody has ever been.”
Trump also predicted Congress “will be very generous” in providing any needed hurricane relief dollars after the storm, as is forecast, unleashes heavy winds and rains on the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic region.
“Because we have no choice,” he said of his administration and lawmakers without elaborating. The president noted the executive branch has some emergency funds already, but he left open the door that Congress might have to allocate more once a final damage assessment is conducted after Florence blows through later this week and into the weekend.
The storm is currently a Category 3 hurricane, but some weather analysts are predicting a Category 4 Florence will slam into North Carolina’s tourist-attracting Outer Banks and coastline Thursday night or Friday morning. From there, it is expected to track a bit north, bringing heavy rains for large parts of North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. (Trump said after a briefing by Homeland Security and FEMA officials that, depending on how the storm moves once on land, Maryland also could face strong winds and heavy rains.)
FEMA Administrator Brock Long told reporters in the Oval Office alongside Trump that, once on land, the hurricane will lose its “steering currents.” Once that happens, it will dump large amounts of rain in the Carolinas, Virginia and other Mid-Atlantic states.
Long warned that Florence has all the signs of being a “devastating storm,” saying people in its path should expect “the power will be out for weeks.”
Trump hailed the job his administration did in Texas and Florida before and after storms there — and defended relief efforts in Puerto Rico, despite FEMA’s near universally panned efforts and a high death toll there.
The president deflected blame for what the slow Puerto Rico recovery plan , saying of the areas in Florence’s path: “Unlike Puerto Rico, they have have very strong power companies.”
He predicted his government is “very well prepared” for Florence. Still, Long compared it to Hurricanes Hugo and Floyd, which inflicted ample damage.
Trump already has declared states of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The District of Columbia’s mayor also has declared an emergency, opening the door to any federal dollars Trump might approve for the nation’s capital.