HOUSTON — President Trump is getting a second chance at the post-natural disaster presidential visit.
Trump, joined by first lady Melania Trump, landed Saturday afternoon to witness the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey firsthand and meet with survivors, four days after his first visit to Texas. Then, he touted the size of the crowd that greeted him outside a firehouse but failed to mention the storm’s victims, leaving critics and even some allies saying he failed to demonstrate the empathy and compassion presidents are expected to display during these visits.
Trump on Tuesday stayed mostly indoors during his visit to the state, where he received briefings on the disaster relief efforts from federal, state and local officials — an itinerary aimed at avoiding the hardest-hit areas so as not to pull emergency responder resources from ongoing search and rescue operations. His visit on Saturday is expected to be markedly different.
Joined by a cadre of Cabinet secretaries and White House chief of staff John Kelly, the President and first lady landed at Ellington Field in Houston, where he was greeted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long.
Flooding and damage was visible from the air before landing, according to pool reporters traveling with the President on Air Force One.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized Friday that Trump had not been able to go into Houston on Tuesday, but will now get a chance to meet with storm survivors, seeming to preview a trip that will check all the boxes that Trump did not during his first visit.
“He’ll have the chance to meet extensively with quite a few storm survivors, as well as talk with some of the volunteers that are helping administer a lot of the support that these individuals have needed over the last week,” Sanders said. “And then from there, he’ll go to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he’ll do a stop there as well, meeting with a lot of the volunteers and other storm survivors.”
And the Trumps have promised to cut a $1 million check to Texas recovery efforts, Sanders, the White House press secretary, announced Thursday. He has not yet determined which group or groups will receive the donation.