President Trump and first lady Melania Trump viewed firsthand the effects of Hurricane Harvey's flooding on Texas and its residents during a visit to Corpus Christi and Austin Tuesday afternoon.
Upon landing, Mr. Trump met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long and local officials to receive an updated briefing on Harvey. He was also joined by Gov. Greg Abbott as well as GOP Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
Mr. Trump thanked his cabinet and Abbott for their work relating to the storm thus far.
"This was of epic proportion, nobody's ever seen anything like this," Mr. Trump said.
Outside of the local fire station where the briefing took place, Mr. Trump addressed an assembled crowd of a few hundred.
"I will tell you, this is historic," he said. "It's epic, but you know what? It happened in Texas and Texas can handle anything."
At the conclusion of his brief remarks, Mr. Trump thanked Abbott, promised to get Texas "back and operating immediately" and waved a Lone Star flag, to which the crowd responded with cheers.
Later Tuesday, the Texas senators traveled with Mr. Trump and his cabinet to Austin, where the president toured the Texas Department of Public Safety Emergency Operations Center and met with officials there.
He praised the response officials' coordination and cooperation in managing relief from Harvey, but added that recovery is "going to be long term."
Along with Texas state leaders, Mr. Trump also received an additional briefing on Harvey's impact in the Governor's Briefing Room.
"Behind the scenes the president has shown character and compassion," Abbott said of the president. "He helped get Texas prepared."
Mr. Trump then reiterated the catastrophic effects of Harvey and the challenges Texas will face in rebuilding, adding that "there's probably never been something so expensive in our country's history."
Mr. Trump, which has borne the brunt of the flooding and is experiencing widespread destruction.
"The president wants to be very cautious about making sure that any activity doesn't disrupt the recovery efforts that are still ongoing," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday morning.
Also traveling with the president were Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon. Sanders emphasized the important role these cabinet officials' agencies will play in recovery efforts in Texas going forward.
Mr. Trump spoke publicly for the first time since the tropical storm began in a joint press conference with President Sauli Niinistö of Finland Monday afternoon, saying that Texas's recovery following Harvey will be "long and difficult."
"We've pledged our full support as Texas and Louisiana recover from this devastating and historic storm," Mr. Trump said.
During the news conference, the president also said he believed Congress will be quick to provide federal relief to victims of the storm, adding that he expects to have funding requests on his desk "soon."
"I think you're going to be in fantastic shape, I've already spoken to Congress," Mr. Trump said, calling the storm both "epic" and "historic."
Mr. Trump also said he plans to visit either Louisiana or Texas on Saturday as well.