President Donald Trump is issuing a new hurricane warning as Hurricane Florence bears down on the U.S. coastline, reminding people ‘bad things can happen when you’re talking about a storm this size, it’s called Mother Nature, you never know, but we know.’
His new colorful language comes after Trump, who struggles with expressing empathy, was criticized for comments he made during a briefing on the storm, where he praised the government’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico as an ‘unsung success.’
In a video posted to his Twitter feed on Wednesday morning, the president, filmed in the Rose Garden at the White House, talked about the category four storm, which is expected to hit landfall on Thursday night.
President Donald Trump listens as FEMA Administrator Brock Long, center, talks about Hurricane Florence in the Oval Office with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
‘Hurricane Florence is fast approaching. They say it’s going to be here in the next 48 hours and they say it’s going to be as big as they’ve seen coming to this country and certainly to the East Coast as they’ve ever seen,’ Trump said, waving his hands in the air for emphasis.
The president received a briefing on storm preparations in the Oval Office on Tuesday by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
FEMA said the biggest danger from Florence was the storm surge – a wall of water from the sea which could reach 20ft high. Some areas could get deluged with 20 inches of rain.
Trump expressed reassurance the government could handle any devastation.
‘We’ll handle it. We’re ready. We’re able. We’ve got the finest people, I think, anywhere in the world – FEMA and first responders are out there. They’re going to stand through the dangers of this storm. Get out of its way. Don’t play games with it. It’s a big one. It may be as big as they seen. And tremendous amounts of water,’ he said.
He concluded: ‘Bad things can happen when you’re talking about a storm this size, it’s called Mother Nature, you never know, but we know. We love you all. We want you safe. Get out of the storm’s way.’
The president also showed confidence in preparations during his briefing with officials on Tuesday even as his adjectives resulted in mockery from his critics.
‘We are totally prepared. We are ready as anybody has ever been,’ he said.
Hurricane Florence will likely be the ‘storm of a lifetime’ after a slight change in path means potential rain and storm surges will be worse than first predicted with up to four feet of rain pummeling portions of the Carolina coast
Trump was derided for his response at the time Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico after taking almost two weeks to visit the destroyed island
‘This is going to be a storm that is going to be a very large one, far larger than we have seen in perhaps decades,’ he added.
‘It’s tremendously big and tremendously wet,’ Tump noted.
But the government has supplies and workers waiting and ready, he added.
‘We’re already set up. We have tremendous trucking systems, we have food systems. We have a lot of contractors waiting. But for the most part, it’s been handled by FEMA, and also we’ve coordinated locally. We have food for days. We have emergency equipment and generators for many days. We should be in great shape,’ Trump said.
He noted he’s spoken to the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
The president was mocked for his ‘tremendously big and tremendously wet’ comment and for claiming the U.S. response in Puerto Rico after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria was an ‘unsung success.’
Trump made the remark after being asked what lessons he had learned from the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.
He said: ‘The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did, working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous.
‘I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success. Texas we have been given A-pluses for. Florida we’ve been given A-pluses for.
Puerto Rico’s death toll was 2,975 in the storm’s wake. The island was without power for 11 months.
Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan who repeatedly clashed with Trump in the aftermath of Maria, was quick to hit back at Trump’s latest remark.
She tweeted: ‘Success? Federal response according to Trump in Puerto Rico a success? If he thinks the death of 3,000 people is a success [then] God help us all.’
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz was one of Trump’s fiercest critics in the wake of Hurricane Maria
Trump also said the hurricane would be the worst to hit the region ‘maybe ever’, was later mocked for his apparent lack of understanding
Maria was a Category 4 hurricane when it hit the impoverished island on September 20, following in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Hurricane Florence is also a Category 4 storm but some estimates have it strengthening before it makes landfall.
Its path shifted overnight and is promising to bring even more devastation than first predicted to the Carolinas and parts of Georgia – with the Michigan-sized storm now set to linger for days and cause catastrophic flooding due to four feet of rain and 13-foot storm surges.
Florence remained a dangerous Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday morning after slowing slightly to 130mph overnight and it is predicted to stall even more before scraping down the U.S. east coast and moving inland before the weekend.
The new trajectory means the storm will idle at sea for longer, creating even heavier and prolonged rains and storm surges for the Carolinas and possibly northern parts of Georgia.
At least 25 million residents are at risk from the storm and experts predict its current path could cause up to $170 billion worth of damage, hit up to 759,000 homes and businesses and become the costliest to ever hit the U.S.
Hurricane-force winds will reach the Carolina coasts late Thursday or early Friday and more than 1.7 million people were warned to evacuate and get out of the way of the ‘life-threatening’ storm’s path.
‘This storm is a monster. It’s big and it’s vicious. It is an extremely, dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane,’ said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
‘The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster.’
Rainfall predictions are expected to be higher because of the weakening wind speeds and parts of North Carolina are bracing for more than 40 inches of rain, which is similar to the catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston last year.
The storm has sparked mass evacuations with as many as 1.7 million people warned to seek shelter from the catastrophic storm, while five million are under a direct hurricane warning.
‘This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast,’ the National Weather Service said.