Story highlights

Trump will head to Texas on Tuesday

The White House has yet to say where Trump will travel

Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump struck a unifying tone Monday as he addressed the devastation in Texas wrought by Hurricane Harvey at the top of a joint news conference with Finland’s president.

“We see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend and stranger helping stranger,” Trump said. “We are one American family. We hurt together, we struggle together and believe me, we endure together.”

Trump extended his “thoughts and prayers” to those affected by the hurricane and catastrophic flooding that ensued in Texas, and also promised Louisiana residents that the federal government is prepared to help as the tropical storm makes its way toward that state.

“To the people of Texas and Louisiana, we are 100% with you,” Trump said from the East Room of the White House.

“We will get through this. We will come out stronger. And believe me, we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before. The rebuilding will begin and in the end it will be something very special,” Trump said.

Trump also took a moment to praise Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, saying he is “doing a fantastic job.”

Picking up on the words of his FEMA administrator, Trump vowed that federal government would continue to provide support for the “long and difficult road” ahead.

“Protecting the lives of our people is my highest priority,” Trump said.

Trump will head to Texas on Tuesday to visit parts of the state that were battered by Hurricane Harvey over the weekend and survey relief efforts up close.

The White House has yet to say where Trump will travel, but the Federal Aviation Administration advised Monday morning that flight restrictions will be in place in Austin and Corpus Christi, Texas on Tuesday due to a VIP movement. The White House stressed that Trump would visit areas where his presence would not overly strain the resources of emergency responders.

“The people are handling it amazingly well and the people of Texas as you know have really persevered,” Trump said earlier Monday in his first public remarks on the storm.

Trump, speaking during an Oval Office photo opportunity, said he may also visit Louisiana on Saturday, depending on the direction Harvey – now a tropical storm – takes.

The President also noted the “historic amount of water” that has fallen since Harvey made landfall and hinted at plans to seek relief funds from Congress.

“As you know, it’s going to be a very expensive situation and we want to take care of the people of Texas and Louisiana,” Trump said, noting he will be “dealing with Congress.”

Trump’s travel to Texas comes as the state continues to deal with the aftermath of the hurricane, including continued flooding that is forcing additional evacuations in the state.

Trump closely monitored the storm’s progress and federal relief efforts over the weekend from Camp David and his aides said Sunday that Trump had given the federal government full latitude to assist and coordinate disaster relief efforts.

White House homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert said Sunday morning on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Trump was “actively involved” and “making sure that our operations were coordinated.” He said he had spoken with the President “probably a dozen times” in the 12 hours before he appeared on the Sunday morning program.

Trump also met for nearly two hours on Saturday with his homeland security team and top advisers to discuss the coordination of federal resources and relief efforts, Bossert said.

Trump made clear via Twitter over the weekend that he was monitoring the storm, tweeting about the “wonderful coordination between Federal, State and Local Governments” in the face of “record setting rainfall.”

“Continuing rains and flash floods are being dealt with. Thousands rescued,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. ‘Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground.”

Trump also tweeted Sunday evening that the “spirit of the people is incredible.”

The hurricane and the ongoing relief efforts have proven to be a first major test for Trump’s administration, marking the most significant natural disaster since Trump took office in January.

Trump signed major disaster declarations for both Texas and Louisiana, allowing federal resources to flow to relief efforts in both states and FEMA Administrator Brock Long has coordinated the federal response.

But the hurricane will present the Trump administration with challenges even after the storm has passed, with relief efforts and rebuilding expected to stretch years into the future.

“FEMA is going to be there for years,” Long told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday on “State of the Union.” “This disaster is going to be a landmark event.”