Trumps Visits Storm Victims In Carolinas

Sep 19, 2018
Originally published on September 19, 2018 10:53 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump is in North Carolina today visiting areas that were ravaged by Hurricane Florence. The president started off in the eastern part of the state.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: In moments of despair, we witnessed the true character of the American people - so true. Citizens all across our country rallied together to rescue the stranded, to protect the innocent and to restore hope to families who have experienced tremendous and unbearable loss.

MARTIN: More than 30 people have died as a result of this storm. Some residents are just beginning to assess the damage to their homes and businesses. NPR's Sarah McCammon has been covering the flooding in Fayetteville, N.C., and joins us from there now. Sarah, what exactly is President Trump seeing today?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: So he's visiting, as you said, the eastern part of the state, which was really hit hard by this storm. And we're told he's participating in a roundtable briefing at a military base not far from New Bern, which we've heard a lot of about. Recovery efforts are really getting underway there now. This is his chance to hear about the conditions across the state of North Carolina and the southeast. Still, dozens of shelters open across North Carolina, about 200,000 people without power, and the exact situation really depends on where you are, if you're close to a river or not. But right now, a lot of areas are digging out, just assessing the damage. And in a few places, there's some water still rising even.

MARTIN: So, of course, these are moments presidents need to go get kind of firsthand view of the damage of a storm like this. But what do people want to hear from him in this moment?

MCCAMMON: Yeah. There's a real concern about recovery, of course, and everything that's going to go along with that, a desire to make sure the federal agencies like FEMA are ready to help and help quickly. I talked to one woman here in Fayetteville who was evacuated from her home, and she said after Hurricane Matthew a couple years ago, a lot of people were displaced for a long time, for months sometimes. And there were many frustrations with the paperwork involved in recovery. For some people, food is an issue. If you get displaced from your home and you're on a tight budget and you lose all the food you have, that can create a real crisis for people in the short term. So she said to the president next week is a long time. You have to act now is her message. And our colleague Brian Mann is in New Bern. He is largely hearing positive reaction there in eastern North Carolina as the president visits. He talked to some truck drivers who were bringing in supplies. And they see the president's visit as a sign that he is paying attention, that the recovery effort is on track. And they've been describing him as a hands-on president.

MARTIN: So let's talk about where you are right now, Fayetteville, which has been subjected to epic levels of funding - flooding, rather, and threats of even worse water damage. What's the situation? How are people there coping?

MCCAMMON: Well, still dozens of shelters open across the state and hundreds of people here locally in shelters. Yesterday, I met Alethia Dugger at one of the shelters here. She lives close to the water - wanted to make sure her mom and her own four kids are safe.

ALETHIA DUGGER: I'm going try to wait it out. I had a lot of people telling me, like, come on back home - just drive (ph). But I just want to wait 'til the mayor say, listen, y'all can come back home. Everything is fine. That's the news I want to hear.

MCCAMMON: And that's what a lot of people are experiencing. As those waters start to recede, they're going to be heading back home, trying to find out what the damage is, piece their lives back together.

MARTIN: That's going to be a complicated process for a lot of people.

MCCAMMON: Right. And local officials here are warning that even as they go back to the homes, there are new dangers of mold, mosquitoes, dangerous water. They want to keep children especially out of the water. Lots of challenges in the coming days, and those are the things that the president is going to be hearing about as he visits North Carolina today.

MARTIN: NPR's Sarah McCammon reporting from Fayetteville, N.C. Thanks, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: Sure thing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.