President Trump visits Florence-ravaged Carolinas, reassures residents that federal government is 'ready to help'

By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
September 25, 2018, 6:33:09 AM EDT

President Donald Trump visited hurricane-ravaged North and South Carolina on Sept. 19 to survey the damage from Florence’s deadly winds, heavy rainfall and flooding, which killed at least 42 people.

Trump’s visit came as many affected residents still reeled from the devastating impacts of Florence and as water levels in a number of rivers, like Cape Fear and Waccamaw, continued to rise.

The president landed at North Carolina’s Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, where he offered words of support to those suffering in the storm’s aftermath, CNN reported.

To the families who have lost loved ones, America grieves with you and our hearts break for you,” Trump said. “God bless you. We will never forget your loss. We will never leave your side.”

Trump visits Conway, South Carolina, after Florence - 9/24/2018

President Donald Trump visits a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Conway, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump reassured the state that the federal government would help out with rescue and response operations, according to the Independent.

“We are with you all the way,” he said. “To all of those impacted by this terrible storm, our entire American family is with you and ready to help; you will recover.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper appealed to Trump for assistance in the recovery process, informing him that "we have weathered storms before in our state, [but] we have never seen one like this.”

“This one has been epic, it has been disastrous and it has been widespread," Cooper told Trump, adding that North Carolina faces “a long road ahead” as the state works to rebuild.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Brock Long also informed the president during the briefing by local and federal officials that the devastation inflicted by Florence isn’t yet over. “The rivers are still cresting,” Long told Trump. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Trump hands out meals in North Carolina - AP Photo

President Donald Trump hands out prepackaged meals at Temple Baptist Church in an area impacted by Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in New Bern, North Carolina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

FEMA is working to restore power to isolated and flooded areas and also ensuring that survivors receive the disaster assistance they need, Long said.

The president, who also stopped by a Baptist church and helped distribute meals in New Bern during his North Carolina visit, praised first responders for their rescue efforts during and after Florence, and mentioned that the recovery process would be costly.

“Unfortunately, the money will be a lot, but it's going to come,” Trump said, according to CNN.

Trump arrived at Conway-Horry County Airport in South Carolina for the second half of his visit to Florence-affected areas.

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He greeted and spoke to a crowd of residents, reassuring them that they were going to be fine as they recovered from the hurricane.

Trump told South Carolinians that they faced “a rough few days” after the storm as he spoke at an emergency management center in Conway.

“You’re going to have a rebuilding process, and we are behind you from day one," he said. “Washington is with you, Trump is with you.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster told the president that the state had never before experienced a disaster of this magnitude, noting that as rising water levels continued to exacerbate the flooding situation, the worst was yet to come.

AccuWeather estimates that Florence's total economic toll will be between $50-60 billion when considering factors such as damaged homes and cars as well as lost property, valuables and wages, according to AccuWeather Founder and President Dr. Joel N. Myers.

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