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Via Telephone

9:35 A.M. EDT

Q    I am Trey Ware, joined now by Vice President Mike Pence on the Stephens Roofing Newsmaker Hotline.  Mr. Vice President, thank you, it’s an honor to visit with you this morning, sir.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, Trey, and thanks for everything you’ve done from San Antonio to help bring relief and comfort and support to all of those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  I can speak on behalf of the President, our entire administration — we’ve been deeply moved by those that have been suffering under this hurricane since it made landfall and now the historic flooding.  And, frankly, we’ve also been deeply inspired by the people the people of Texas, by your first responders, by neighbors who are coming alongside people in the midst of this hardship.  And just know all of our hearts are in Texas, from all across America and from here at the White House.

Q    Thank you very much, sir.  You know, we have a great Governor here who is doing a wonderful job.  He has stepped up to the plate.  We’ve had a number of local officials — it’s the local officials who really lead the charge in something like this.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s exactly correct.  And we commend Governor Abbott and local officials for just an extraordinary effort.  You’re absolutely right.  I remember this during my days as governor of Indiana, Trey, that when the rain comes down and beats against the house, and the flood waters rise and the wind blows, states are in the lead and your local first responders and local emergency managers.

But the federal government has a vital role in providing support.  And from even before landfall, President Trump directed the full resources of the federal government to support the people of Texas and, as of this morning, the people of Louisiana, in the midst of this storm.

As I speak to you, we have some 8,000 federal officials working through FEMA on the ground in Texas and Louisiana.  We have dozens of fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft with the Coast Guard that are supporting National Guard efforts.

There have literally been thousands of rescues by air and shallow water.  And also, the people of Texas should know as well that there literally have been several dozen task forces deployed under FEMA from states around the country.  We have first responders from around the country that are on the ground — in many cases, at risk of their own personal safety — that have been involved in the rescue effort.  And that’s where our focus is right now, Trey.  It’s at 100 percent on rescue, on lifesaving efforts.

Recovery will come, but as the flood waters continue to rise, the rain continues to fall, our focus is on saving lives and supporting the efforts of the state of Texas and local emergency personnel to accomplish that mission.  And our only message, if your listeners are talking to neighbors and friends across the affected areas in southeast Texas, is just listen to local officials.  That is the standing order.  Everyone should continue to follow the instructions of state and local officials, whether that’s shelter-in-place, or evacuate.  And especially if there’s a life-threatening situation or health situation, people can call 911 and get the assistance that they need.

But the most important thing is that people listen — listen to local officials about how to respond.  And we’ll get through this and the federal government will be there for the long haul to help rebuild Texas and all the affected areas from Hurricane Harvey.

Q    I’m going to get into that federal government response in just a minute.  I am visiting with Vice President Mike Pence.  Trey Ware here on KTSA, talking about these local officials and your great advice there.  There’s millions of people listening to us right now.  The amazing thing about this, Mr. Vice President, is the fact that the loss of life — right now the numbers are at five.  Now, that number could change, but it certainly is far less than what was anticipated in a storm of this magnitude, and I think that’s a credit not only to local officials but the public responding and doing what they needed to do.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, Texans are tough and —

Q    (Laughter.)  That’s true.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And, look, in Texas you’ve dealt with a lot of hardship, you’ve dealt with hurricanes in the past that have come through.  We grieve for the loss of life.  And as rescue operations go forward and our first responders continue to get into these affected areas.  We hope and we pray that those numbers will not increase.

But is a testament to local officials.  It’s a testament to people responding to the direction that they receive from their state and local government.  But people should know within the sound of our voice, particularly if they have families and friends across the area, Trey, is just, we are 100 percent now focused on rescue efforts.  There will be disaster assistance available for businesses.  There will be small business loans available.  There will be plenty of time, once the flood waters begin to recede, for us to begin to deploy those resources.

But right now is on lifesaving efforts — getting people out of harm’s way and also making sure — the federal government has already shipped more than a million meals, more than a million liters of water with millions more on the way, cots, blankets, medical supplies —

Q    Generators.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  And the response from the Red Cross, by faith-based organizations that already have been on the ground since this weekend has been deeply inspiring.

Q    Before I let you go, I know the President is planning a trip here tomorrow.  Do we know when and where specifically?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Those details will be forthcoming, Trey.  I know the President and the First Lady have been very anxious to come to the area to see firsthand the efforts that are underway and to come alongside.  I know in San Antonio you have more than a thousand people in shelters already.  But the President wants to be there and make sure the families and all of those affected and our first responders know that we are with you.

I can tell you, having spent a good part of the weekend with the President in Cabinet meetings called on Saturday and on Sunday, the President has been continuously updated, fully engaged, he’s deployed the full resources of the national government.  He’ll reflect on that tomorrow, and people can just be confident that as we move through this rescue operation that we’re there for the long haul.  We’re there for the long haul with Texas through the recovery efforts.

But now is the time to focus on lifesaving efforts.  And if I have one message for your millions of listeners is just make sure they tell folks to listen to local emergency managers and officials.  This continues to be a very dangerous storm, and we’re not out of the woods.  And life-threatening flooding will continue to occur, and people just simply need to continue to heed the direction of local officials.  And we’ll continue to lean into this effort with our support.

And, of course, you all should know that the prayers of millions of Americans, including our families here at the White House, are all with the people of Texas.

Q    It means everything in the world to us, sir.  I appreciate your time, and when we get through this and get to the other side, you are welcome here anytime.  I’d love to sit down and have you on the show and let’s just shoot the breeze and talk a little bit.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thanks, Trey.  We’ll make a point of it.  Thanks for all you’re doing to help the people of Texas through this very difficult time.

Q    Thank you, sir.  We’ll visit again soon.

9:44 A.M. EDT