By Glenn Thrush
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump landed in storm-brushed Corpus Christi, Texas, on Tuesday to see for himself some of the damage caused by Tropical Storm Harvey and demonstrate his personal commitment to a region still in the grips of a historic natural disaster.
Trump, who pushed aides to schedule a visit to Texas as early as possible, initially considered touring San Antonio, far to the north of the damage, but settled on Corpus Christi because it was 30 miles away from the most severely affected parts of the Gulf Coast, and suffered relatively light damage from the initial impact of the storm.
After conferring with local, state and federal emergency management officials, the president, accompanied by Melania Trump, the first lady, planned to travel north to Austin, where he will meet with top officials in Texas, including Gov. Greg Abbott, a political ally who has given the White House high marks for its storm response thus far.
The president was also scheduled to meet with several members of Congress, local elected officials and mayors, although he had no plans to meet the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner.
The visit takes place five days after Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane with 130-mph winds.
“Due to the weather and all of the circumstances it’s a little bit more fluid today than a normal travel day,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One during a turbulent flight.
“The president wants to be very cautious about making sure that any activity doesn’t disrupt any of the recovery efforts that are still ongoing, which is the reason for the locations we are going here today,” she said.
Trump, his aides say, is eager to avoid the mistakes made by President George W. Bush in 2005, when he took a relatively hands-off approach to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.
“We are glad he’s coming,” said Ben Molina, a Corpus Christi councilman. “It’s important that he sees the damage around the coast. I’ve never seen anything like it, and neither has anybody else.”
he president Monday pledged to quickly pass an appropriations bill to deal with the massive damage to private property and public infrastructure. He said he would return to the region this weekend.