President Donald Trump is planning to visit areas affected by Hurricane Florence next week, though his exact plans are not yet finalized.
“The president is expected to travel to areas affected by the storm early to middle of next week, once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts. We will keep you posted when we have details,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday.
Hurricane Florence is bringing widespread flooding, heavy rains and strong winds to many coastal areas of North and South Carolina. The storm, which made landfall Friday morning as a Category 1, is expected to continue to soak the area throughout the weekend.
In a note provided by the White House Friday night, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump called North Carolina officials to offer support.
The statement said: “Earlier today the President called Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (NC), Mayor Vi Lyles (Charlotte, NC), and Mayor Bobbie Jones (Princeville, NC). President Trump assured each elected official that the federal government stood ready and prepared to assist with anything their state and respective communities would need during this natural disaster. The President has been monitoring Hurricane Florence throughout the day and has received updates regarding the impact of this devastating storm.”
Trump has been criticized for his response to Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico last September and resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths. Trump has said, without evidence, that death total is not accurate.
Maria came after two other deadly storms — Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida. More than 100 people died as a result of both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.
Trump visited all three areas last year.
At least five people have died as a result of Hurricane Florence, including a mother and her infant when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington.
All 15 members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation signed a letter to Trump on Friday, asking for an expedited Major Disaster Declaration for the state. The designation, they said in the letter, “is for both individual assistance and public assistance, including direct federal assistance for counties across North Carolina.”