1:28 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. The First Lady and I are pleased to welcome Gail McGovern of the American Red Cross, David Hudson of the Salvation Army, and Kevin Ezell of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. These people have been absolutely incredible at what they’ve done.
I would like to thank them, and their staff and volunteers for the incredible work they’re doing and in helping people affected by Hurricane Harvey. Sounds like a very innocent name but it’s not an innocent hurricane, that I can tell you. It’s of epic proportion.
These organizations and the many other non-profits involved represent the generosity, determination, and unbreakable spirit of the American people.
And Mike Pence was there yesterday and represented his country so well, in the love and the care, and I had so many just great comments about your visit, so I appreciate it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: When a disaster strikes, they work to help others in the time of need, which was over the last week, believe me. They’ve already provided tens of thousands of displaced Gulf Coast residents with meals, water, shelter, fresh blankets, and clean clothing.
When one American suffers — and I say this quite a bit, especially lately, when you see what’s going on — we all suffer. We’re one American family brought together in times of tragedy by the unbreakable bonds of love and loyalty that we have for one another. And there is a great love and a great loyalty in this country, and I think we’ve all seen it, maybe more so than ever before over the last four days. So I think we really have seen it. Nowhere is our unity more evident than in the actions of our volunteer and charitable organizations that rally to their neighbors’ aid when disaster strikes.
The people of Texas and Louisiana were hit very hard by a historic flood. In their response, they have taught us all a lesson — a very, very powerful lesson: There was no outbreak in crime. There was an outbreak of compassion only — real beautiful, strong compassion. And they’ve really inspired us as a nation. To be honest, they’ve inspired the world, because the world is watching.
We’re pleased to receive an update from Gail, David, and Kevin on the work of the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. The federal government is on the ground bringing in significant resources to bear. And I want to assure these organizations and the others involved that we will continue to coordinate with them and bring all of the relief and the comfort and everything else that we absolutely can to the Gulf Coast.
And I want to also thank the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Texas. They have been outstanding. Just the coordination and the level of relationship has been, I think, pretty much unprecedented. So I just want to thank them. I want to thank all of the folks working on the ground for the administration. Tom Bossert is here today. Tom, thank you very much, we appreciate it. Every American heart is with the people of Texas and Louisiana. They’re strong and resilient, and they have really overcome.
And we’re in the process of just about, where I can I say, overcome this horrible devastation. Now it’s going back to work, but the Coast Guard in particular, I have to also thank. They saved probably thousands of lives — we were just talking about it — going onto seas that very few people would want to be on in the worst of times, when they were saving a lot of people out there.
Together, we will help them all recover from this tragedy. We’ll renew our hope and community, and we’ll renew our hope and rebuild those homes, and businesses, and schools, and places of worship where the strength and vigor that comes from the love within our souls.
And I just authorized and signed a proclamation for prayer. And we’re going to have, on Sunday, a prayer Sunday. And, Mike, that was something that was very special, just took place. So I think it’s going to be something to see and to witness. It’s been a long time. And our country deserves it right now.
I want to thank my wife, Melania, the First Lady. She’s been so involved in this and helping so much. And so I want to thank you. Would you like to say a few words to start off?
MRS. TRUMP: It’s great to be here with amazing people, and I want to thank all the volunteers all across the country dedicated to help to Texas — and fantastic job. And we’re going tomorrow to visit them, and I just want to tell them to be strong and everything will be okay.
THE PRESIDENT: See, I didn’t tell her I was going to do that, Stewart. And she did a great job. (Laughter.) But she really has; she’s been so dedicated to this. This has very much affected her, what’s happened in Texas and neighboring states, frankly.
So I want thank you, First Lady. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HUDSON: Yes, well, we’re first of all very appreciative of this opportunity, appreciative of our partners in service. We are working hand-in-hand with groups like the Red Cross, where they provide shelter for people, and we’re able to provide meals. And even though we’re limited in being able to get in to a lot of the impacted areas, we’ve already served hundreds of thousands of meals, and literally millions of meals will be served.
And we can only do this as we partner together. And as I’ve told my coworkers, this is a time that we’re all Texans. And no matter where you’re from, we’re all about serving Americans in need. And I’d like to thank you, Mr. President, the Red Cross, and the Baptists and all the other agencies that partner with us. Together we can make a difference.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That’s very nice.
MR. EZELL: We’re three different organizations, but we work best as one. And the joy of this is we really do lock arms and have the capacity to feed over 400,000 people a day. And, Mr. President, thank you for FEMA. They’ve been incredible through this. We’ve gone through many disasters, and they’ve done just a fantastic job stepping to the plate and being prepared and allowing us to volunteer (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we should thank Brock Long and all of the people at FEMA, and the people at Homeland and, I have to say General Kelly, who has been so much involved. As you know he just left, and he’s now in the White House. But his spirit and anything else that’s been involved over the last few weeks getting ready. Because, really, this has been probably now almost two weeks since we felt that it was probably going to hit that area. But General Kelly has done a fantastic job. And Elaine Duke has been terrific. So I want to thank all of our folks.
Red Cross, how are we doing?
MS. McGOVERN: Sir, first of all, our hearts go out the people of Texas, and on behalf of the entire American Red Cross, so many people have lost everything and presented in our shelters with just the clothes on their back. I visited one of the shelters outside of Austin, and it housed about 200 people. And I had the opportunity to call to all the families — everyone from a six-month-old baby to a 6’8” man — and everybody in between.
And you heard stories of heartbreak and heartache. But the one thing that I hadn’t seen in the nine years that I’ve been with the American Red Cross is the incredible resiliency of the American people. They are bound and determined to build back, and there are about 40,000 people in our shelters right now across the state of Texas. And our volunteers are pouring in, giving them comfort, hope. We served about 390,000 meals and snacks. And the incredible thing is our partners are there. They are getting the hot meals into our hands so that we can serve them.
Government has just been phenomenal. And when we had a hard time getting our volunteers in, the city gave us dump trucks so we could get volunteers and cots in. The Department of Defense gave us high-water vehicles — 20 of them — so we could break in and bring needed supplies.
So I’m just so appreciative of the teamwork. I’m appreciative of your support. And again, our hearts go out to the people of Texas.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Very nice. 390,000 —
MS. McGOVERN: Meals and snacks.
THE PRESIDENT: And that’s up until now. Just up to — as of last night.
THE PRESIDENT: You’ll be doubling that. That’s a tremendous job.
MS. McGOVERN: I’m quite sure we will.
THE PRESIDENT: Tremendous job.
Mike, would you like to say something?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Just, Mr. President, having — I just returned from southeast Texas yesterday. We heard the resilience, the character, and the faith of the people of east Texas. We heard their gratitude to you and the First Lady for the administration’s support, for your compassion, your admiration for our first responders from FEMA, down to local leadership.
But I also heard, Mr. President, about their gratitude for volunteer organizations that have literally been there from the very outset of this storm. And I want to thank you and the First Lady for taking the opportunity to call attention to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Anyone looking on should know that while the federal government is going to be there at your direction, we’ll be seeking resources from the Congress to make sure that disaster relief is available for individuals and businesses. Literally, the work of meeting people’s human needs each and every day will take all of us, and these volunteer organizations need resources and they need people.
And I would just add, Mr. President, that anyone looking on can go to NVOAD.org — it’s our website where all these organizations are listed. People can find out how they can be supportive of national volunteer organizations that at this very hour, and for weeks and months ahead, will be coming alongside families as they rebuild their lives.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s good. Thank you, Mike. Thank you very much.
This is just some of the locations that over a very short period of time, they and others have managed to go to some of these locations, as you know very well. Some of the press has been there, and I will say they are devastated. Two days ago there was water like nobody has ever seen before. I guess in the history of our country we’ve never had an amount of water like we’ve had. And yet you were able to occupy all of these different locations and take care of people — you and the others.
So we want to just thank you. That’s really a special, special job. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.
Q Do you think DACA is illegal? Do you think DACA is illegal? (Inaudible) later today, possibly?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll be releasing on DACA sometime over the weekend, probably Sunday, Saturday. Latest will be Monday. Great feeling for DACA.
Q Do you think it’s illegal? DACA is illegal — is that your sense?
Q Sir, will you be making the spending request today?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, we’ll be making a request. Absolutely. For the state of Texas, yes — and Louisiana.
And tomorrow I’m going to Louisiana with the First Lady, and Texas. So it will be Texas, Louisiana.
Thank you, everybody.
1:40 P.M. EDT