With expected widespread devastation throughout Florida following Hurricane Irma, President Donald Trump announced on Sunday when he planned to visit the storm-ravaged state.
After spending the weekend monitoring the storm at Camp David with members of his cabinet, the president told reporters at the White House that he planned to visit Florida “very soon,” according to ABC News.
He likely didn’t give a specific date for his official visit, as the massive storm continued to beat down on the Sunshine State, because his presence could hinder initial recovery efforts when law enforcement and emergency responders need to be focused on helping victims of the storm, not providing security for the president.
The massive storm made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday morning before moving up to Florida’s Gulf coast and making a second landfall on Marco Island.
As of Sunday night, Irma was still pounding much of the state, although it had been downgraded to a Category 2 storm.
Trump said the initial response to the hurricane was going well, noting that FEMA, in particular, had been “incredible” and that the U.S. Coast Guard deserved “tremendous credit” for its storm response, according to the The Associated Press.
In recent weeks, the president has also made two visits to storm-ravaged Texas following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, and his approach to Florida will likely be the same.
In fact, aides advised Trump that visiting the hardest-hit areas of Texas in the immediate aftermath of the storm would divert important resources from the recovery efforts, according to CNN. Instead, the president settled upon visiting Corpus Christi, a coastal city that did not receive as much damage as other places, such as Houston.
A president’s response to natural disaster is largely a balancing act: Go too soon, and your presence could do more harm than good; wait too late, and you could be perceived as lacking empathy for those affected or appreciation for the damage done.
As Irma continues to wreak havoc on Florida, it’s too soon for Trump to know exactly when he will be able to inspect the destruction left in the storm’s path, but he was already optimistic about recovery efforts.
“The bad news is that this is some big monster, but I think we’re very well coordinated,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner.
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