The US president and his wife Melania are not slated to visit Houston, America’s fourth largest city where rescue teams were scrambling to reach hundreds of stranded people as Harvey appeared poised to strike again.
They will instead make stops further west, including hard-hit Corpus Christi, for briefings on relief efforts as catastrophic flooding has crippled parts of the massive state’s southeast.
The medical examiner’s office for Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, confirmed six deaths since Sunday “potentially tied to Hurricane Harvey.” Three people were previously known to have died as a result of the storm.
“We are one American family,” Trump said Monday, eager to present himself as a unifying figure in the face of natural disaster — after leading for seven months a White House plagued by controversy, much of it self-generated.
He promised the federal government would be on hand to help Texas along the “long and difficult road to recovery” from the historic storm.
But officials also warned that the danger has not yet passed, with more families still stranded or packed into emergency shelters and the tropical storm once more gathering strength on the Gulf coast.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said more than 8,000 people had been brought, soaking and desperate, to shelters the city, and defended the decision not to evacuate before Harvey struck over the weekend.
“Search and rescue, that’s the number-one emphasis, the number-one priority for the rest of the day,” he said, recalling that around 100 people had died the last time officials tried to empty the city of more than six million.