WASHINGTON, Sept 12, 2018 (AFP) : US President Donald Trump promised Wednesday that the federal government was “ready” and “able” to handle Hurricane Florence, warning residents to get out of the way as the monster storm bears down on the East Coast.
“They say it’s about as big as they have seen coming to this country, and certainly to the East Coast as they’ve ever seen,” Trump said.
“We’ll handle it. We’re ready, we’re able, we’ve got the finest people I think anywhere in the world,” he added in a video message posted on his Twitter account.
Florence is currently a Category 4 hurricane on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale and was forecast to slam into the Carolinas later this week.
More than a million people are under mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents frantically boarded up homes and businesses and hit the road as the storm approached.
Florence is forecast to trigger severe flash flooding as it dumps up to three feet (almost a meter) of rain in some areas.
Life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet in some places were also forecast.
“Get out of its way, don’t play games with it, it’s a big one, maybe as big as they’ve seen, and tremendous amounts of water,” Trump said.
“Bad things can happen when you are talking about a storm this size. It’s called Mother Nature. You never know, but we know. We love you all, we want you safe. Get out of the storm’s way.”
In a separate tweet, Trump warned that the storm was “looking even bigger than anticipated.”
Trump also took a shot at the mayor of San Juan after she derided his claim that the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria last year in Puerto Rico was an “incredible unsung success.”
Nearly 3,000 people are estimated to have died in the US territory as a result of that devastating Category 4 storm.
“We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan),” Trump tweeted.
“Shame on you,” Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said Tuesday after Trump’s boasts of success.
“Nobody’s going to be singing his praises,” she added, calling the operation a “despicable act of neglect” by the Trump administration.