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Trump in N.C.: ‘A lot of money’ coming to state for recovery

The News & Observer
September 19. 2018 8:51PM
U.S. President Donald Trump poses for a photo while handing out meals at a distribution center at Temple Baptist Church while participating in a tour of Hurricane Florence recovery efforts in New Bern, N.C., on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)



RALEIGH, N.C. — Much of North Carolina returned to normal Wednesday, even as broad swaths of the state remained inundated and imperiled by floods spurred by Florence.

At the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, sunny skies greeted President Donald Trump and a phalanx of federal officials whose arrival underscored the nearby devastation.

Trump flew to coastal Craven County to tour storm damage and meet with state and local officials. Accompanying him on the trip aboard Air Force One were the state’s two U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.

Gov. Roy Cooper, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, FEMA Administrator Brock Long, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Rep. David Rouzer and other officials joined Trump at a nationally televised public briefing in a hangar a few hundred yards from the executive plane.

“Our state took a gut punch, Mr. President, and our people are still reeling,” Cooper said. “This one has been epic. It has been disastrous, and it has been widespread. It is a storm like no other.”

“We will be there 100 percent,” Trump said. “We’re getting all teed up for a lot of money to come down to the area. You’re going to need it, and we have it, and we will be supplying it. And there will be nothing left undone. You’ll have everything you need.”

The governor said the death toll in North Carolina is now at 27.

Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good reported at the briefing that power has been restored to 1.5 million people; 150,000 customers are still waiting.

Trump asked Good how the Lake Norman area had fared, referring to the recreational area in Catawba County near Charlotte where there is a Trump National Golf Club.

“I love that area,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.”

Across the state, authorities were keeping an eye on rivers that had been expected to crest throughout the day Tuesday, in some cases exceeding the levels of Hurricane Matthew. Many communities and neighborhoods remained flooded, and curfews invoked by a number of local officials were still in effect Wednesday.

The Neuse River was cresting in Goldsboro on Wednesday, pushing water onto nearby streets.

A U.S. Geological Survey river gauge at Lillington showed the river was beginning to fall Wednesday morning. A gauge at Fayetteville showed the river leveling off there.

Robeson County estimated the Lumber River, which crested Monday night at 25 feet, would crest again sometime over the weekend at 24 feet because of water coming in from other counties. There are more than 1,000 people in shelters in that county.

The county reports that 31 buildings have been destroyed and another 510 have received some type of storm damage. Rescues and damage assessment efforts are still ongoing, and the county plans to distribute water and food at several locations tonight.

More roads into and out of Wilmington were opened after the port city was cut off from all land access in the wake of the hurricane’s landfall Saturday.

From Cherry Point, the President traveled in a motorcade 20 miles up the coast to New Bern, where he helped distribute packages of hot dogs, peas and applesauce outside Temple Baptist Church, according to the pool report. The President visited a neighborhood that was flooded from the Neuse River and asked residents how their houses fared in the storm.

Trump asked one man about the large yacht that had washed up behind his house. “Is this your boat?” Trump asked.

It wasn’t, the man said, according to the pool report.

Trump turned and replied with smile, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

Trump headed next to South Carolina.

At an afternoon news media briefing in Newport, Cooper and administration officials reassured residents that help was on the way, even as flood damage continues.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” the governor said.

Cooper said 13 rivers were at major flood stage, and about 7,800 people are still in shelters. Fewer than 900 roads remain closed, down from 2,200, he said.

But the Department of Transportation says it doesn’t know when Interstates 95 and 40 or other major highways to and from the coast will reopen, with rivers at or near record levels.


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