9:36 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning, Frank. This is Mike Pence calling from the White House.
Q Vice President, thank you so much for taking time to be with us this morning.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, thank you. And thank you for all that you’ve done, all this station has done to provide support and timely information to people that are enduring not only the landfall but now the incredible aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. I just — the President and I have been deeply moved by the suffering that’s taken place. But we’ve been inspired by the way the people of southeast Texas have come alongside their neighbors, the way state and local officials have responded, the way our first responders from the Coast Guard, to your National Guard, to local public fire and safety have put themselves literally in harm’s way to save lives.
And if I have one message to all of your listeners on behalf of the President and the entire federal government is the people of Texas should know we are with you, and the President and the First Lady will be in Corpus Christi today. My wife and I will be in southeast Texas later this week, and we’re going to continue to provide all of the resources necessary to advance the efforts to rescue people that are enduring this storm. And also we’ll be with you through the long, long recovery that awaits Texas.
But thank you for having me on.
Q Vice President Mike Pence with us this morning. I know you’re an old radio guy.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I am.
Q Did you ever have any situations of disaster that you covered when you were a broadcaster?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Never on this scale. To see it from afar, Frank, has just been stunning I know for every American.
But when I was governor of Indiana, when I was working in the radio decades ago, we had our snowstorms. We had our tornadoes. We even had flooding. But to see the magnitude of this storm, the violence as it came ashore in your listening audience, and now to see the persistence of the rainfall that could be as much as 50 inches in the region — never saw anything on this scale.
But I can tell you I was at FEMA yesterday getting a briefing on our team, and I hope everyone within the sound of my voice knows that the full resources of this national government at President Trump’s direction — beginning Friday night — have been brought to bear on supporting state and local efforts, and that will continue to be the case until everyone in harm’s way is rescued and everyone who is in need of assistance for recovery gets the financial support that the American people have made available to people in like circumstances.
Q Mr. Vice President, some of our outlying communities have just been utterly devastated, and we hear when these people call us, and they’re just — they’re seeking information. They’re — I know these resources are starting to come in, but do you have any words for these people that are sitting there without power, without drinking water? They’re trying to find services. The only method of communication is truly this radio station — all six of our stations, iHeartMedia stations that we’re streaming on — do you have a message for these folks?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Our message to them is that it’s important that they continue to listen to local officials, local emergency managers — whether that’s to shelter in place or to not return to affected areas. The most important thing now at every level of government is that we focus on saving lives and rescuing those that are in harm’s way.
But they should know that help is on the way. As I speak to you, there’s — in addition to all of the extraordinary commitment, the activation of the entire Texas National Guard, first responders on the ground, we have more than 8,600 federal officials through FEMA on the ground. We’ve delivered more than 2.5 million meals, 2 million liters of water — and with more on the way.
This is an unprecedented storm by every calculation, and I can assure you and assure each one of them that the continuous response of state, local, and federal officials is unprecedented as well; and we’ll continue to lean into this effort.
But my most important message to them is that you’re in our prayers. We’ll continue to make every resource available. But please, please listen to local emergency management officials about how to conduct yourself and keep yourself and your family safe.
Q We’re talking to Vice President Mike Pence with us this morning on iHeartRadio Corpus Christi, and we had the initial brunt of Hurricane Harvey here in the Coastal Bend. That storm was massive. It went on to bring these tremendous flooding rains to Houston and southeast Texas. And so the question starts to begin: The amount of resources that poured into our area — do we start to see our resources go away? Or are there other resources that are heading to Houston? How do they split that up from a logistical standpoint? And what can we expect? Are we going to lose out? I don’t want to say lose out to Houston because that’s an incredible devastation and a whole lot of people affected. But how is that — how does that separation of these resources, how does that go into play?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first and foremost just know that, as will be evident when the President and the First Lady visit today and come to Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi we understand is the region where this made landfall. And the devastation that took place there, the displacement of families, those resources are continuing to flow — from temporary housing for those that have been displaced, to shelter support. We have more than three dozen Coast Guard vehicles, helicopters and fixed-wings in the area; more than 100 shallow-water rescue boats; not counting literally the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers that have come to the area with their own watercraft to assist people. It’s been incredibly inspiring.
We’ll keep it in the forefront. And rest assured, we’re very confident that federal emergency management reserves have more than sufficient funding to provide the initial response and all that FEMA is purposed to do. And we’re also very confident that when Congress reconvenes next week that we’ll be able on a bipartisan basis to seek any additional disaster assistance funding that maybe necessary for the families.
As of yesterday, Frank, we had more than 22,000 families go to disasterassistance.gov to begin to initiate an application for support and for services in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. We encourage people if they can to go to that website and begin that process. There may be as many as a half a million Texans who are eligible for financial support. They go to disasterassistance.gov or check in with FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA to begin that process.
But again, that’s all about recovery. And just be assured, Frank, before I was Vice President and governor, I was a member of Congress for 12 years. And I can assure you that the heart of our national government — the Congress of the United States and this White House — will work in concert, will work quickly. And we’ll make sure the financial support is available for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Q Thank you for that. And our Congressman Blake Farenthold was in here a little bit earlier, and he reiterated that, as well.
And we thank you, sir. And I know you mentioned that you all are keeping us in your prayers and the state of Texas in your prayers, and I want you to know that there’s a lot of people in Texas that are keeping yourself and your family and the President in their prayers, as well. And we appreciate your service, and I know you’re busy. And we thank you very much for your time to come on and talk to the Coastal Bend this morning.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Frank, it’s just — let me say again, literally, we’ve been on our knees for the families affected by this storm. And we know we’re not out of the woods. People within the sound of my voice should know that this is still a dangerous storm. Life-threatening flooding will continue to occur, and they need to heed the voices of local officials that they’re hearing on the airways of your station.
And let me lastly just say, thank you for being there for this community in this hour of need. This is a special radio station. Thank you for your commitment and the heart, if I may say, that you’ve shown for this community.
We’ll get through this. Texans are tough, and we’ll all work together. But it’s a great, great testament to this radio station’s commitment to the community that you’ve provided this public service. And God bless you for it.
Q Thank you, Mr. Vice President. We appreciate your time this morning. Thank you, sir.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right, bye-bye now.
9:46 A.M. EDT