"We don't want to congratulate. We'll congratulate each other when it's all finished," Trump also said during his visit to Texas on Tuesday evening

By Karen Mizoguchi
August 29, 2017 09:43 PM
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President Donald Trump made two visits to the flood-ravaged regions in Texas on Tuesday, during which he attempted to uplift spirits with an ill-timed joke.

“Probably there’s never been anything so expensive in our country’s history,” the commander-in-chief said about recovery and rebuilding efforts in the future during a briefing at an emergency operations center in Austin.

“There’s never been anything so historic in terms of damage and in terms of ferocity as what we’ve witnessed with Harvey. Sounds like such an innocent name, Ben, right, but it’s not innocent,” Trump said to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who also attended the briefing.

The president added, “Nobody’s ever seen this much water. The wind was pretty horrific, in particular, but the water has never been seen like this, to this extent. And it’s, maybe someday going to disappear. We keep waiting.”

Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

Earlier in the day, during his first photo opportunity in Corpus Christi, Trump boasted about crowd size.

“What a crowd, what a turnout,” he said before waving a Texas flag. “This is historic. It’s epic what happened, but you know what, it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.”

Trump also told the audience that there is more work to be done before he can say congratulations for a job well done.

“We won’t say congratulations. We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to congratulate. We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished,” he vowed.

Speaking with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and FEMA Administrator Brock Long, the president shared his hopes of setting the bar for emergency responses to natural disasters.

Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty
Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

“We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as ‘This is the way to do it,’ ” Trump said. “This was of epic proportion. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this, and I just want to say that working with the governor and his entire team has been an honor for us.”

Also on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained that Trump stayed away from the epicenter of the damage in Houston to avoid disrupting recovery operations. However, he plans to return on Saturday to view the damages in addition to meet the victims.

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Tropical storm Harvey touched down as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, dumping several inches of rain on the Texas Coastal Bend. The storm left homes flooded, many without power and several buildings destroyed.

Now, several towns in Texas are bracing for the second impact of the already-catastrophic storm, according to ABC. Local officials reported 19 confirmed and suspected flood-related deaths according to the New York Times.