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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump praised the federal response to the devastation of Hurricane Michael Monday as he and first lady Melania Trump visited Florida and Georgia to view the damage firsthand.
“The job they’ve done, everybody has been incredible,” the president said at a stop in Lynn Haven, Fla., pointing to FEMA, first responders, and law enforcement.
“I think the governor would tell you we are doing a lot,” he added later. “We are doing more than anybody would’ve done, and probably there hasn’t been hits like this, certainly not very often. They say 50 years ago there was one that had this kind of power — 50 years ago, that’s a long time. But we are helping the people, and we will always help the people.”
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One prior to as they travel to Florida and Georgia to view damage from Hurricane Michael on Oct. 15, 2018.Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images
The storm last week claimed at least 19 lives, with dozens of people still missing. Thousands of residents in the affected areas — from Florida to Virginia — remain without power, with damage from the storm expected to total in the billions of dollars.
With 155 mph winds and storm surges reaching 14 feet, Michael was the most powerful storm on record to ever hit the Florida Panhandle.
The Trumps were greeted when they arrived on the Florida Panhandle Monday morning by a group that included Florida Gov. Rick Scott, FEMA administrator Brock Long and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, among others.
The president and first lady took an aerial tour of the devastated coastline, flying over barren trees and roofless homes.
The Trumps then toured the damage in Lynn Haven, a town north of Panama City, with Mayor Margo Anderson and Scott, stopping by an aid distribution center where they passed out bottled water to residents.
More than 80 percent of homes in Lynn Haven were damaged beyond repair during the storm. “To see this personally, is very, very tough,” Trump said.
The president and first lady planned to visit Georgia later Monday afternoon.