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Donald Trump offers reassurances on Storm Harvey recovery during visit to Texas

President Donald Trump has offered reassurances to Texans who felt the wrath of Storm Harvey, promising residents during a visit to the state: "We are going to get you back and operating immediately."

Starting his visit in wind-whipped but sunny Corpus Christi, Mr Trump's motorcade passed broken trees and knocked down signs as it made its way to a firehouse for a briefing with local officials.

"This was of epic proportion," the president declared as he pledged to provide recovery assistance. "We want to do it better than ever before. We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, 'This is the way to do it'."

Afterwards, Mr Trump stood between two fire engines and spoke to a crowd of hundreds of people gathered outside.

"What a crowd. What a turnout," he said, thanking Texas governor Greg Abbott and senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.

"This is historic. It's epic what happened, but you know what, it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters travelling with Mr Trump that the president's visit was focused on coordination among different levels of government and laying the groundwork for what is expected to be a lengthy recovery effort.

"The president wants to be very cautious about making sure that any activity doesn't disrupt the recovery efforts that are still ongoing," she said aboard Air Force One shortly before it touched down in Corpus Christi.

Mr Trump travelled with first lady Melania Trump and Cabinet secretaries who will play key roles in the recovery. Some people lining roads near the airport held American flags and waved as the motorcade passed.

The president, who wore a white cap that said "USA", was briefed in Corpus Christi on relief efforts.

Then he headed to Austin to meet state officials at the emergency operations centre. Mrs Trump, who traded in her usual stiletto heels for a pair of white trainers, wore a black baseball cap that read "FLOTUS", an acronym for "first lady of the United States".

The Cabinet secretaries were to meet with their Texas counterparts during Mr Trump's visit.

"That's a big part of what today will be about, the coordination between local, state and federal officials and laying the groundwork for the recovery effort," Ms Sanders said.

Mr Trump has embraced the role of guiding the nation's response to Harvey, which made landfall along the Gulf Coast on Friday night as a Category 4 storm near Corpus Christi, and moved north-east along the Texas coast over Houston.

The storm has dumped more than 30 inches of rain in parts of Texas and authorities have rescued thousands of people left stranded by the storm.

Mr Trump's vow of swift action on billions of dollars in disaster aid is at odds with his proposed budget, which would eliminate the programme that helps Americans without flood insurance rebuild their homes and cuts grants to states that would allow them to take long-term steps to reduce the risk of flooding before disaster strikes.

Vice president Mike Pence said Harvey's relentless nature and size were "frustrating".

In a pair of interviews on Tuesday with radio stations serving Corpus Christi and San Antonio, Mr Pence warned that life-threatening flooding will continue and urged listeners to continue to follow instructions from local authorities.

He said he and his wife, Karen, would visit the region later this week. And Mr rump plans to return to the region later in the week.

Mr Trump saw a largely functioning Corpus Christi, a city of 325,000, where damage was minimal.

Power has largely been restored, particularly in commercial areas. Some restaurants have reopened and stores are restocked. Hotels are jammed with evacuees from hard-hit areas to its north-east, including Houston.

Residents have been advised to boil drinking water because authorities cannot guarantee the integrity of the city's lead and steel water system.

AP

Mr Abbott praised Mr Trump for showing "both care and compassion and direction" for those affected by the hurricane.

He said the president helped "Texas get prepared (and) provided us every resource and tool that we needed".

Mr Trump is "committed to ensuring that Texas will rebuild", he said.

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