WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump sought to showcase the federal government’s response to Hurricane Harvey in a tweetstorm of his own, marveling over its size like a TV host and announcing a visit to Texas with the natural disaster only just beginning to take its catastrophic toll.
In a series of tweets Sunday Trump said his administration was handling its responsibilities well and, in a tangential aside, hawked a book on race and crime in America written by a supporter.
“Wow – Now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood! We have an all out effort going, and going well!”
He later added: “Even experts have said they’ve never seen one like this!”
Harvey is the first major natural disaster of Trump’s presidency and a significant test for a White House that is often chaotic and rife with infighting. Attention on Harvey from officials, the public and the news media also allows Trump to refocus after a turbulent stretch that included his widely criticized response to the white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump, who spent most of the weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, convened a Cabinet meeting by telephone Sunday which included Vice President Mike Pence. He tweeted a promise of a Texas visit “as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption” — later announced by the White House as Tuesday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott loaded heavy praise on Trump and the federal government, describing an “A-plus” effort.
“I’ve got to tell you, I give FEMA a grade of A+, all the way from the president down,” Abbott said. “I’ve spoken to the president several times, to his Cabinet members, such as secretary of homeland security, such as the administrator of FEMA, such as Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services.”
The devastating storm has dumped more than 2 feet of rain, sending thousands of people in Houston to rooftops for rescue and prompting a warning from Federal Emergency Management Agency director Brock Long of a “landmark event” that could require years to get damaged areas back on track.
“All across the board, from the White House to the federal administration to FEMA, they’ve been very helpful,” Abbott said.
Harvey made landfall along the Gulf Coast on Friday night as a Category 4 storm near Corpus Christi, and moved northeast along the Texas coast over Houston. Abbott said he expected heavy rain “for days to come.”
The governor commended Trump for being “extremely professional, very…