Trump visits flooded North Carolina in aftermath of Hurricane Florence
Trump travelled south Wednesday as the state was still grappling with massive recovery efforts. He was heading to a briefing at a Marine Corps air station where Air Force One landed in the coastal town of Havelock, one of many communities hit by the torrential rains.
Trump told reporters as he departed the White House that he will also visit South Carolina before he returns to the White House later Wednesday.
The president says he wants to say “hello” to everyone from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military that are working hard to help residents recover from the storm.
Adds Trump: “I think it will be an incredible day.”
WATCH: FEMA Director Brock Long says it’s going to take an effort from every level to deal with continued flooding and in the clean-up effort in the Carolinas, following Hurricane Florence
Trump’s trip to the state follows criticism for his handling of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last year, and more recently for disputing the official death toll of 3,000 in the U.S. territory.
More than 15,000 people remain in shelters and more than 200,000 customers are without power across North Carolina, six days after Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, according to state officials.
“We continue to feel the effects of this massive storm,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said on Tuesday. “Even though there is no substantial rain in the forecast and the sun may be shining across many parts of our state, rivers continue to rise and we will see more flooding.”
Florence has already killed at least 35 people, including 26 in North Carolina and eight in South Carolina where local media reported that two mental health patients drowned on Tuesday when the sheriff’s van the women were in crashed.
WATCH: U.S. President Donald Trump helped hand out food to residents in North Carolina after the devastation of Hurricane Florence.
One person was killed in Virginia when the storm spawned about 16 tornadoes there on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
Thousands of rescues have taken place in the Carolinas. Fire and rescue crews were waiting to go into many areas to assist with structural damage after Florence dumped up to 91 cm of rain in parts of North Carolina since Thursday.
At least 16 rivers remained at a major flood stage with three others set to crest in the coming days in North Carolina, the state said.
More than 1,100 roads were still closed across North Carolina, Cooper said, including several portions of Interstates 40 and 95. In South Carolina, 40 major roads were closed.
In the town of Fair Bluff, North Carolina, which has struggled to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, only about 50 residents remained on Tuesday, Fair Bluff Police Chief Chris Chafin told Reuters.
The town has largely been cut off by flooding from the still-rising Lumber River, which was expected to crest on Wednesday.
Much of Columbus County, where Fair Bluff is located, was under water, according to Steve Abbott of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, with most roads closed and “driving not advised.”
© 2018 Reuters