President Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One he planned to visit the areas affected by Hurricane Florence early next week, according to the White House.
That would likely include Florida, which bore the initial brunt of the storm’s destructive force, and could include Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas and possibly Virginia as well, depending on the storm’s track.
The president spoke with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal during the flight Wednesday, and pledged to offer any federal resources necessary to help the states in their response.
“We want to get down there as soon as possible,” the president said at a press briefing with FEMA administrator Brock Long. “At the same time, I don’t want to go down where we’re interfering with the people — first responders, the FEMA people. I want them to focus on the storm, not me. So we’ll probably look to Sunday or Monday to go down and meet with the governors, meet with everybody, and do what we have to do, like we did in North Carolina, South Carolina, where that worked out really well.”
The storm hit Florida as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon, bringing historic damage and flooding to the Panhandle area before moving northeast to Georgia. It was expected late Wednesday to continue on a northeastern arc and move across Georgia, into the Carolinas and then out to sea by late Thursday or Friday morning.
it was expected to pummel parts of Georgia overnight, with the center of the storm passing near Albany, Warner Robins and Augusta before moving toward Columbia, S.C., and beyond overnight, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“With a stronger landfall, weakening will now only take this down to a Category 1 hurricane as it approaches the forecast area. As it tracks across Central Georgia, hurricane force winds may transition to mainly gusts but effects will remain the same with hundreds if not thousands of trees and powerlines downed,” the National Weather Service wrote.
“It’s a tough situation. We’re with them. We’re with Georgia. We’re with Florida. We’re with Alabama,” President Trump said, according to POLITICO. “Everybody that will be hit, we have covered. I just say God bless everyone because it’s going to be a rough one.”