Trump speaks to more governors as Irma heads to other states

US President Donald Trump speaks about Hurricane Irma upon return to the White House in Washington, DC on Sept 10, 2017.
US President Donald Trump speaks about Hurricane Irma upon return to the White House in Washington, DC on Sept 10, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump spoke to the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee yesterday, the White House said as Hurricane Irma's path moved away from the lower Florida Keys westward to the Gulf Coast and states to the north.

Mr Trump has spoken regularly to Florida Governor Rick Scott and Florida senator Marco Rubio, both Republicans, and to the state's Democrat Senator Ben Nelson yesterday, the White House added.

Mr Scott told ABC's "This Week" programme that he spoke with the President yesterday morning.

"He's offered every resource there is of the federal government," he said.

Mr Trump also issued a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico yesterday and expanded federal funds available to the US Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Irma, the White House said. Both islands have had massive power outages, but search- and-rescue operations had to wait out Hurricane Jose before they could begin recovery efforts there, Mr Brock Long, who leads the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told ABC.

"I'm in great communication with the White House and Homeland Security," Mr Long said. "We've all been working together. They realise what needs to be done to give me the enduring authority to push forward."

Mr Trump had been monitoring the impact of Hurricane Irma from the presidential retreat at Camp David, where he held the fourth full Cabinet meeting of his presidency on how to advance his administration's priorities during the balance of his first year in office.

White House officials did not allow journalists to photograph the Cabinet meeting or to ask the President questions. Instead, the White House released official photographs showing Mr Trump and his Cabinet members sitting around a conference room table on Saturday afternoon in what it said was a briefing on the "track and potential impact" of the hurricane.

One picture showed Mr Trump and his advisers praying. Other pictures showed the President, dressed in a navy suit, white shirt and striped tie, having a discussion.

The White House released a nearly five-minute YouTube video of Mr Trump speaking to Cabinet members at the start of the meeting.

Reading from prepared remarks, he said that "all of America grieves" for those who have already lost their lives from Hurricane Irma, and he urged people in Florida to heed the directions offered by state and local authorities.

"This is a storm of enormous destructive power. I ask everyone in the storm path to heed all instructions. Get out of its way," he said, adding: "Property is replaceable, but lives are not, and safety has to come first."



Hurricane Irma slams into Florida.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'Trump speaks to more governors as Irma heads to other states'. Subscribe