President Donald Trump sought to boost morale on a visit to storm-battered Texas on Tuesday, lauding the resilience of the southern U.S. state and waving its flag at an enthusiastic crowd.
Officials briefed Trump and his wife Melania during stops in Corpus Christi and Austin. In a bid to stay out of the way of rescuers, the couple avoided the flood zone where much of metropolitan Houston remains under water.
Crowds of supporters greeted Trump, but so did some protesters who waved signs opposing both his proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico and his bid to ban transgender troops from the U.S. military.
Standing on a step ladder near a fire truck in Corpus Christi, Trump waved the Texas flag to a crowd who cheered him on after he was briefed in emergency operations.
"What a crowd, what a turnout," Trump said. "I will tell you this storm, it's epic what happened. But you know what, it happened in Texas and Texas can handle anything," he said to applause.
Joined on the trip by Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Trump said he would be working with Congress to get the federal aid needed for relief efforts.
"Probably there's never been anything so expensive in our country's history and there's never been anything so historic in terms of damage," he said during a tour of an emergency operations center in Austin.
Some Texans said they were grateful Trump made the trip.
"Anything will help right now, because right now, we ain't got nothing now," Mike Herrera told Reuters.
Facing the first major natural disaster of his seven-month-old tenure, Trump said he was pleased with the response so far, but it was too soon to take a victory lap.
"We won't say congratulations. We don't want to do that.... We'll congratulate each other when it's all finished," he said in Corpus Christi.