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N. Carolina governor tells Trump his state 'took a gut punch'

Posted at 7:10 AM, Sep 19, 2018

p>President Donald Trump traveled to flood-ravaged North Carolina today to assess the federal response to Hurricane Florence, which pummeled through the state last week.

He arrived around 10:30 a.m. ET at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, situated along the bloated Neuse River.

The state's emergency management leaders briefed the President, saying rivers were still to crest and flooding is a major problem. They need to get roads open to get power crews through to those without it, and are focused on making sure disaster assistance is getting to people.

Governor Roy Cooper said there is still danger for people who still need evacuated and brought to safety.

"Our state took a gut-punch," Cooper said. He also said the death toll stands at 27.

Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas on Friday. Ahead of the storm, Trump touted his administration's preparation.

The President reiterated the strength of the federal response on Tuesday, though imbued his statement with a sense of political grievance.

"Right now, everybody is saying what a great job we are doing with Hurricane Florence -- and they are 100% correct," he Tweeted. "But don't be fooled, at some point in the near future the Democrats will start ranting that FEMA, our Military, and our First Responders, who are all unbelievable, are a disaster and not doing a good job. This will be a total lie, but that's what they do, and everybody knows it!"

After storms last year, Trump made quick visits to the damage zones in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. He was accused at moments of appearing overly congratulatory, even as conditions remained dire.

On his first visit to Texas after Hurricane Harvey flooded parts of Houston, Trump met with no storm victims, choosing instead to receive high-level briefings from state officials. He later returned to the state to meet with displaced families.

When he visited San Juan after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump lobbed rolls of paper towels into a crowd at a church — an image that has since come to illustrate what his critics say was a lackluster approach to the island's destruction.

Presidents have long sought to use natural disasters as a way to project executive leadership, often in a setting where politics are set aside. But pitfalls have abounded, including in 2005 when President George W. Bush faced intense criticism for his response to Hurricane Katrina.

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