President Donald Trump got a first-hand look on Monday at the “total devastation” that Hurricane Michael brought to Florida, as rescuers searched for scores of missing and as hundreds of thousands of residents remained without electricity.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump passed out bottles of water at an aid center in Lynn Haven, a city of about 18,500 people near Panama City in northwestern Florida, after taking a helicopter flight from Eglin Air Force Base about 100 miles (160 km) to the west.
“To see this personally is very tough…total devastation,” said Trump, who later traveled to neighboring Georgia to see storm damage there.
At least 18 deaths in four states have been blamed on Michael, which crashed into the Panhandle last Wednesday as one of the most powerful storms on record to hit the continental United States.
Thousands of rescuers, including volunteers, are still combing remote areas of the Florida Panhandle for those reported missing. They include 46 missing in Mexico Beach, according to ABC News. The town took a direct hit from the hurricane,
About 200,000 people remained without power in the U.S. Southeast, with residents cooking with fires and barbecue grills during daylight in hard-hit coastal towns such as Port St. Joe, Florida.
Trump was accompanied by Florida Governor Rick Scott, a fellow Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in the Nov. 6 congressional elections in which control of Congress is at stake.
After visiting Florida for a few hours, the Trumps flew to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia to look at a part of that state hit by Michael and get a briefing from state and local officials. They surveyed damage to cotton crops and pecan trees. The Trumps planned to return to Washington on Monday evening, the White House said.