By Doina Chiacu and Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Sept 10 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has “great concern” about the dangers of Hurricane Irma as it batters the Florida coast and has told his team he wants to travel to the state as soon as practicable, his vice president said on Sunday.
“Clearly the briefing that we received at Camp David this morning caused the president to have great concern for the impact of this storm moving up the west coast and the potential through heavy winds and storm surge to compromise cities and compromise lives,” Vice President Mike Pence told reporters.
Trump spent the weekend at the presidential retreat in Maryland monitoring the storm, meeting with his cabinet and talking with governors from the region. He directed the full resources of the federal government to help Florida and other states hit by the hurricane, Pence said.
“The president has already expressed to our team a desire to be there every bit as soon as is possible,” Pence told CBS affiliate WKMG-TV in Orlando, noting the government’s immediate focus was on saving lives.
Trump, who is slated to return to the White House later on Sunday, has been “monitoring this storm 24/7,” Pence told reporters during a visit to the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Sunday.
“The people of South Florida, the people of the entire state should know: We are with you,” Pence said, flanked by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
“Wherever Hurricane Irma goes, we’ll be there first,” Pence said. “We’ll be there with resources and support, both to save lives and to help to recover and rebuild these states and these communities.”
Trump owns a resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he has often traveled during his presidency, as well as three golf courses in the state.
On Sunday, Trump also issued a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico, and expanded federal funds available to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Irma, the White House said.
The islands have had massive power outages, but search-and-rescue operations had to wait out Hurricane Jose before they could begin recovery efforts there, Brock Long, FEMA director, said on ABC’s “This Week.” (Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Von Ahn)
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