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On the eve of his visit to the Carolinas to survey damage from Hurricane Florence, President Donald Trump thanked first-responders and described the storm as “nasty” in a taped message from the White House.
Trump posted the video to his Twitter account, and many mocked him for appearing to say the storm was “one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.”
His sentence could be read like this.
“This is a tough hurricane — one of the wettest we’ve ever seen. From the standpoint of water, rarely have we had an experience like it,” Trump said.
But he left no pause between the two sentences, resulting in confusion.
“And it certainly is not good. But the people of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, all of the areas affected, you’ve been incredible,” Trump said.
North Carolina and South Carolina have set records for rainfall in one location from a hurricane or tropical storm. Hurricane Harvey (Texas) and Hurricane Lane (Hawaii) set records in the last year as well — and produced more rainfall than Florence did in the Carolinas. Harvey dumped more than 60 inches in one spot, well above Florence’s mark.
“Florence has been a nasty one, a big one, like that area certainly has never seen before,” Trump said.
At least 34 deaths have been linked to Hurricane Florence and its remnants as of Tuesday evening.
“There’s been a loss of life and may God be with them and their families,” Trump said. “That’s a tough one. It’s tough to understand, but this has been a really difficult period of time for a lot of people.”
Trump thanked FEMA, the military, the U.S. Coast Guard and law enforcement for their work.
“I just want to thank everybody for doing such a great job with a very difficult situation,” he said. “… So the water’s still rising. Listen to your state and local authorities. Be patient, be alert and God bless you.”