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Remarks at a Briefing From Disaster Relief Organizations on Hurricane Harvey Recovery Efforts and an Exchange With Reporters

September 01, 2017

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 in what they've done. We'd 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—[laughter]—but it's not an innocent hurricane, that I can tell you. It's of epic proportion. These organizations and the many other nonprofits 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.

Vice President Michael R. Pence. 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 4 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, and they were saving a lot of people out there.

Together, we will help them all recover from this tragedy. We'll renew our hope in community, and we'll renew our hope and rebuild those homes and businesses and schools and places of worship with a 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'll be—it's been a long time. And our country deserves it, frankly.

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?

The First Lady. It's great to be here with an 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 on the end of——

The President. See, I didn't tell her I was going to do that, Steve [Steve Holland, Reuters]. 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.

Salvation Army.

[At this point, Salvation Army National Commander David E. Hudson made brief remarks, concluding as follows.]

Mr. Hudson. 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.

Southern Baptists.

North American Mission Board President Kevin 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——

The President. Absolutely.

Mr. Ezell. ——and they've done just a fantastic job stepping to the plate and being prepared and allowing us to volunteer the way we're prepared to do.

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 everything else that's been involved over the last few weeks getting ready. Because, really, this has been probably now almost 2 weeks since we felt that it was probably going to hit that area. But General Kelly has done a fantastic job. And Elaine Duke who has been terrific. So I want to thank all of our folks.

Tell me, Red Cross, how are we doing?

[American Red Cross President and Chief Executive Officer Gail J. McGovern made brief remarks, concluding as follows.]

Ms. McGovern. Government has just been phenomenal. And when we had a hard time getting our volunteers in, the city gave us dump trucks so we can get volunteers and cots in.

The President. That's great.

Ms. McGovern. The Department of Defense gave us high-water vehicles—20 of them—so we could break in and bring in 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, Gail. Very nice. 390,000.

Ms. McGovern. Meals and snacks.

The President. And that's up until now.

Ms. McGovern. 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?

[Vice President Pence made brief remarks, concluding as follows.]

Vice President Pence. And I would just add, Mr. President, that anyone looking on can go to; 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 great. Thank you, Mike. Thank you very much.

[The President displayed a map.]

This is just some of the locations that over a very short period of time, they've managed—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.

[The President shook the hands of the participants.]

Thank you very much. Thank you, Gail. Great job. Great job.

Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Policy Q. Mr. President, do you think DACA is illegal? Do you think DACA is illegal?

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?

The President. Excuse me?

Q. DACA is illegal, is that your—[inaudible]?

The President. Thank you.

Disaster Relief Funding

Q. Sir, will you be making the spending request, sir, funding for—[inaudible]?

The President. Oh, we'll be making a request. Absolutely. For the State of Texas, yes.

Q. Okay. [Inaudible]—soon though, right?

The President. And tomorrow I'm going to Louisiana with the First Lady, and Texas. So it will be Texas, Louisiana.

Q. Okay. Okay.

The President. Okay? Thank you. Thank you, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:28 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Gregory W. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas; Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Thomas P. Bossert; Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Brock Long; White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, in his former capacity as Secretary of Homeland Security; and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine C. Duke.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks at a Briefing From Disaster Relief Organizations on Hurricane Harvey Recovery Efforts and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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