Annaville Fire Station 5
Corpus Christi, Texas
12:05 P.M. CDT
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: Well, I want to welcome the President of the United States to the great state of Texas. I want to express my gratitude for our fellow Texans and especially the people of Corpus Christi for giving the President such a warm welcome on his ride over here, showing the gratitude that we all have for the President.
I want to express my deep gratitude to the President for him and his entire Cabinet and staff for what they have done over the past couple of weeks. A lot of people see what happens in front of the camera. I want to reveal in just one minute what’s been going on behind the scenes, behind the camera, for the past two weeks.
About 10 days in advance of the hurricane even coming into the Corpus Christi area, members of the President’s Cabinet and the President himself were in contact with me and my office pre-preparing for this catastrophe that was coming our way. And every step of the way, as the hurricane came across the shore, as the flooding began in Houston, Texas, the President and his Cabinet remained in constant contact with me and my staff. And they all had one thing to say: Texas, what do you need? How can we help? You can count on us.
What I have learned is we can count on the President of the United States and his staff for helping Texas. Texas has been tested, but our response to this challenge has been made much more effective because of the very effective way the President and his staff has helped Texas respond to this challenge. So, Mr. President, thank you. Thank you. Welcome to Texas.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. That’s so nice, Governor, and it’s really my honor. This is a very special place in a special state. And Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn, we thank you very much for being here. We appreciate it. I know it was hard to get here for both of you — you were trapped in various locations — but we appreciate you both being here.
I want to thank my staff, my Cabinet. We have quite a few of our Cabinet here. You know Ben Carson, obviously, from HUD, and Tom Price and Linda McMahon — Small Business. Small business, which is now big business, because when you add them all up you’re going to be helping a lot of the people in Texas and doing a fantastic job. Thank you very much, Linda.
But we have had a tremendous group of folks. Our Acting Director, Elaine, thank you very much for the job you’ve done. And a man who has really become very famous on television over the last couple of days — Mr. Long — we appreciate it very much. You have been just outstanding.
And I can tell you that my folks were just telling me how great your representatives have been in working together. It’s a real team, and we want to do it better than ever before. We want to be looked at in five years, in ten years from now as this is the way to do it.
This was of epic proportions. Nobody has ever seen anything like this. And I just want to say that working with the Governor and his entire team has been an honor for us. So, Governor, again, thank you very much. We won’t say congratulations. We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to congratulate. We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished. But you have been terrific. Really terrific. It’s a great honor. And you’ve been my friend, too, for a long time.
And with that, maybe you could say a few words.
ADMINISTRATOR LONG: Thank you, Mr. President. So the whole community is coming together. You know, right here where the brunt of the Category 4 hurricane winds came in just north of Corpus Christi, we’re already starting to effect recovery. Recovery is a slow process, but rest assured that we’re doing everything we can to unify our efforts down to support the local responders, the first responders that we have here.
Yesterday, I put eyes on the ground down in Rockport. We already have points of distribution flowing. We’re working in conjunction with the Governor’s National Guard where FEMA is supplying meals and water, and the National Guard is helping to run those distribution points. That’s how this system works. All eyes are on Houston and so are mine. We got a long way to go. We’re going to have to set up expectations of the citizens that we’re going to have to continue a unified effort down to help the state of Texas ultimately recover.
So, very quickly, the objectives stay the same. The event, unfortunately, to the north of us is not over. We’re still in a lifesaving, life-sustaining mission. We’re very aware of the issues at the Convention Center, but let me be clear: This is not the Superdome. The Convention Center — we are sustaining food. They have food, we have security. I have an incident management team inside the city of Houston as we speak, and more and more people are being moved to shelters to stabilize the situation.
The next thing is, is that we’re pushing commodities. Once the water goes down, we’ll continue to push not only commodities but also help to get people registered in the system to receive assistance from all of us. You know, assistance doesn’t just come from FEMA; it comes from many organizations who are represented here today by Secretary Price, Secretary Carson, and others.
The next thing is, is that we’re looking at power restoration. We’re maintaining security. You know, Ms. Duke, you’ve mobilized the Homeland Security Search Capacity Force. With that comes law enforcement to make sure that we’re overcoming and anticipating any security needs that we have.
And then also, with Secretary Price over here, we’re working with not only the Governor’s disaster medical teams but we’re also sending federal disaster medical teams in, not only to the Convention Center today — there’s already some on site — but there’s going to be multiple areas, not only for crisis counseling but also to make sure that we’re meeting access to functional needs.
The access is a challenge to getting all the supplies in, once the roadway systems come out. We’ve amassed quite the federal force to be able to support the local and state efforts. For example, the Governor pulls 12,000 National Guard troops in. We’re pulling units out of Fort Hood as the federal government and federal DOD forces are coming in as well. We’ve pulled several hundred trucks and staff just from assets right here in the state of Texas, and that’s how the system works.
This recovery is going to be frustrating. We’re going to be here with you to help you guide through it. It’s going to be tough to navigate all of the programs that become available, but we’re here to help.
So with that, I’d like to pass it along to our friends at the Coast Guard.
U.S. COAST GUARD PARTICIPANT: Mr. President, good afternoon, sir. This is where your Coast Guard serves at its best.
U.S. COAST GUARD PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to tell you, I can speak for the Governor because we spoke about it, and we’re very proud of the Coast Guard — the job you have done with the lives you’ve saved. We’re very, very proud of you, and thank you very much.
U.S. COAST GUARD PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)
ADMINISTRATOR LONG: Mr. President, before the press pulls out, there’s information that I’d like to share in regards to how citizens can get involved — so here again, it’s the whole community. Neighbors helping neighbors is going to be needed in helping Texas overcome.
So very quickly, if you would like to register for assistance underneath the Governor’s declared counties — there’s 18 declared counties for individual assistance underneath the President’s disaster declaration. That’s DisasterAssistance.org — excuse me, DisasterAssistance.gov — I apologize — DisasterAssistance.gov. That’s the FEMA individual assistance system.
There’s also ways, if you’re looking to volunteer: NVOAD.org — N-V-A-O-D.org. There’s also, within the state of Texas, OneStarFoundation.org and, I believe — RedCross.org as well.
So thank you, and at this time we’ll let the press pool leave.
12:18 P.M. CDT