Aug 29, 2020
Transcript: Donald Trump Speaks in Lake Charles, LA after Hurricane Laura August 29
Donald Trump stopped in Lake Charles, LA to survey storm damage from Hurricane Laura, and delivered remarks to several Louisiana officials. Read the full transcript of his speech here.
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Donald Trump: (00:00)
John, thank you very much, and I know you’re going to be talking to us about some additional help, and actually I look forward to that meeting. Normally, I wouldn’t, but the people can use it down here. I see… Incredible. What’s the percentage of people that have insurance on their homes?
Speaker 1: (00:19)
It’s around 50%, and most of the area you saw today [inaudible 00:00:26], and so those people are not going to see [inaudible 00:00:30].
Donald Trump: (00:30)
Not for long, I can see.
Speaker 1: (00:31)
The biggest challenge is for those who have it, they still about a $7500 hurricane deductible, which is very, very hard [inaudible 00:00:40].
Donald Trump: (00:42)
So we’ll be talking about that, I think?
Speaker 2: (00:44)
Donald Trump: (00:46)
We’ll be talking about it. Well, thank you very much, everybody. And I’m here to support the great people of Louisiana. It’s been a tremendous state for me. I love the people. We’ve had a good relationship right from the beginning. It’s very important that I was here, and already met some people that have been absolutely devastated. This was a tremendously powerful storm. In fact, when it came in, it was actually much bigger than Katrina, I would say. Katrina being somewhat of a landmark, I think, in terms of devastation, but this had more power. This was almost coming in at a five. It was a five a little bit out offshore, and it came in as a four, but 150 mile an hour. It was up to 185 at one point. I don’t know that we’ve ever seen that. But we’re joined by Governor John Bel Edwards and Senator John Kennedy, two friends of mine. They’ve done a fantastic job representing the state. And acting Secretary of Homeland Security, who’s no longer really acting in my mind, because he just got a promotion. And if John Kennedy can push him with Bill, that’d be terrific because he deserves it. He’s been doing a great job. There’s the man. Don’t talk to me anymore. I’ve done it for you. Right there is the man. But thank you very much, Chad. And FEMA administrator, Pete Gaynor. Pete, great job. And he’s all over the country right now doing different things. And we have a lot of different elements happening, but we have to take care of Louisiana. We have to take care of Texas. Texas got a little bit lucky.
Donald Trump: (02:15)
Thanks also to the members of Congress that are here. I have a little list. That’s a lot of members. I don’t know. Where are you folks back there? I love those guys. First of all, Louisiana Attorney General. Where’s Jeff? Jeff Landry. Jeff, could you hear Jeff? He is so good. He is so tough and so good. And I agree with so much of what you do, almost all of it. I’m not sure that I’ve seen anything I don’t agree with. Great job, Jeff Landry, everybody. Thank you very much. Congressman Steve Scalise. Steve, he’s probably the bravest man in the room, but he’s done good. And I actually think he’s better looking today than he was three years ago, if you want to know the truth. He went through hell, and we found out that his family loves him. That’s for sure, because were they were with you all the way. That was a rough time in that hospital that night, right? That was a rough time, Steve. We’re glad to have you. People love you. People love you.
Donald Trump: (03:09)
Congressman Clay Higgins, and Clay, thank you very much, Clay, for being here. Congressman Garret Graves. Garret, nice to see you. What are you doing sitting back there? I can’t believe it. That’s not like you and Mike. I can’t believe you guys. They’re being low key today for a change. Right? And Mike Johnson, my friend, and he’s been a supporter. They’re all warriors. These people are warriors. They fight for us and they fight for the people that they represent, and they’re incredible warriors. Thank you, Mike. I appreciate it very much. And State Senator Mark Abraham, and Mark, thank you. Good job you’re doing here. Great job. James Waskom, Director of Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Good. You’ve got plenty to prepare for. Now do you have other storms, James, coming in? Is that what I’m hearing?
James Wascom: (03:59)
Donald Trump: (03:59)
You got to be kidding, James. Don’t let that happen.
James Wascom: (04:02)
Not necessarily Louisiana, but they’re coming across the Atlantic.
Donald Trump: (04:04)
In other words, they’re heading in a general direction. Is that what you’re saying? That’s not good. What looks like the likelihood that they actually form and reach?
James Wascom: (04:17)
Donald Trump: (04:21)
So you had some tremendously bad storms 50, 60, 70 years ago. You and I were talking about dates. What’s the difference now, would you say, in terms of storms coming in now compared to many years ago?
James Wascom: (04:34)
They seem to be more frequent, Mr. President, and stronger. So if there’s one thing, that’s probably what I would say.
Speaker 3: (04:49)
But the other thing is, this one went from a tropical storm to a category 4-
Donald Trump: (04:49)
Speaker 3: (04:49)
In 36 hours.
Donald Trump: (04:49)
Speaker 3: (04:49)
And so we had a lot of people who early on, I don’t think they were going to evacuate. But hours before landfall, [inaudible 00:04:58], I think people decided that they needed to… Tony, you told me that. People evacuated late. Thank God, they did, because there’s no way we would be sitting here right now with four deaths-
Donald Trump: (05:09)
So that really, the fact that they finally did get out, they saw it build. It built so fast, didn’t it? Because it looked like it was going to be the lesser between Marco and this, and Marco-
Speaker 3: (05:20)
Donald Trump: (05:20)
It disintegrated, and this just came in roaring. It’s unbelievable. Nick Hunter. Nick, thank you. Great job, Nick. Great job you’re doing. We appreciate it. Mayor of Lake Charles, you got hit hard. Were you the hardest hit, would you say, Nick?
Mayor Hunter: (05:37)
I can’t quantify that we were the hardest hit, but I can tell you we took a hell of a punch.
Donald Trump: (05:41)
Yeah, you took a big punch.
Mayor Hunter: (05:43)
Yes, sir. Probably 100% with no power.
Donald Trump: (05:43)
A hundred percent?
Mayor Hunter: (05:46)
A hundred percent of the city was without power.
Donald Trump: (05:48)
So when people get used to air conditioning, and this is very hot, when people get used to air conditioning and all of a sudden they don’t have it, that’s a very traumatic situation, isn’t it?
Mayor Hunter: (05:58)
Yes, it is. You find out how acclimated we are to modern conveniences at a time like this.
Donald Trump: (06:03)
Mayor Hunter: (06:03)
And no power, very limited amounts of water right now make it very difficult for a lot of people in Lake Charles.
Donald Trump: (06:09)
Well, you have a great reputation. Thank you.
Mayor Hunter: (06:11)
Donald Trump: (06:11)
Thank you very much. Michael Danahay. Michael?
Michael Danahay: (06:17)
Back over this way.
Donald Trump: (06:18)
Hi, Michael. Hi, Michael. How are you doing, Michael?
Donald Trump: (06:23)
As mayor of Sulfur, are you hit, would you say, like this one? Pretty much like this one? Very close. How’s it going?
Michael Danahay: (06:30)
[inaudible 00:06:33], we have basic services back up [inaudible 00:06:38].
Donald Trump: (06:38)
Well, good job. Good luck. And the mayor of Westlake, Bob Hardey.
Mayor Hardey: (06:43)
Donald Trump: (06:44)
Thank you, Bob. How’s it going?
Mayor Hardey: (06:44)
Kind of like Michael. We got hit pretty hard. I would say-
Donald Trump: (06:44)
Mayor Hardey: (06:44)
65% have [inaudible 00:06:58], but we’re working at it, so [inaudible 00:07:10]. It’s not going to be fast, but [inaudible 00:07:14].
Donald Trump: (07:21)
Well, you’ll all get it going. One thing I know about this state, they rebuild it fast. There’s no problem. And we’ll supply what we have to supply, and you know what a lot of that is? A thing called green. Right? And we’ll take care of you. I’ll be speaking with you and John. And I just want to recognize Bill Cassidy and Congressman Ralph Abraham, two great people. And Bill’s going through a problem. And I hope Ralph is fine, right? Ralph is fine. And Bill is going through a problem, but I spoke to him the other day and it sounds like he’s doing well. And he’s been, along with John, a terrific senator.
Donald Trump: (07:56)
So Hurricane Laura was a category four storm and it was actually for a little while, a five.
Donald Trump: (08:03)
And it was actually for a little while a five. It was up to 175, almost 180 miles an hour. Few people have ever even heard of that with winds. Currently when it came in, it was at 150 miles per hour at landfall, damaging thousands of homes and causing hundreds of road blockages and major power outages. And I heard, I think this is correct, that it was the most powerful storm coming in and hitting your land in 150 years.
John Bel Edwards: (08:31)
Donald Trump: (08:32)
John Bel Edwards: (08:32)
Not to assume that the measure was right. It may be-
Donald Trump: (08:35)
Yeah, you don’t know.
John Bel Edwards: (08:35)
… six, we don’t know.
Donald Trump: (08:36)
How do they do it? They put their finger up, right? I just visited the Cajun Navy and the relief center. They’re fantastic. I want to thank the pastors, and we had a great pastor just gave us a little prayer. And he didn’t choke. He gave a great prayer, I’ll tell you. He got up there and he just gave it. I’ve seen some didn’t quite get it out as nicely, but he did a fantastic job. And I want to thank all of the pastors across the state, people of faith across the state who have been helping families and communities recover. Before the storm struck, I approved an emergency declaration under the auspices of John and John Bel. We had a very quick one. I would say you got that almost immediately, wouldn’t you say, John? I think before the storm got here, you had your emergency. We knew what was coming.
John Bel Edwards: (09:24)
Thank you, Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (09:24)
Yeah. Thank you, John. But we got it very quickly, and we’re going to be discussing some other things in a little while. Yesterday, I approved a major disaster declaration that helps individuals and business owners, which is a little bit different, but it goes right to the individual. And I’ve signed that already. And so you’re all set to go on that. FEMA has delivered 2.6 million liters of water and 1.4 million meals. And that’s a lot of meals. So you’re pretty busy, I guess, Pete, right?
Pete Gaynor: (09:55)
Donald Trump: (09:55)
That’s incredible. Great job. Your people are incredible. I haven’t had, and Pete’s done this now for a long time, but I haven’t had one complaint with all of the storms we’ve had in Texas and here and every… I haven’t had one complaint. So you’ve done a hell of a job, Pete. Thank you. Pete Gaynor, everybody. Don’t hire him away, please. Private enterprises look and they say, “Hey, let’s go take him away.” Don’t let him leave, John, please. All right? Is that all right?
John Bel Edwards: (10:23)
He’s the best.
Donald Trump: (10:24)
We’re also assisting state and local officials to restore water to roughly 180,000 residents and to protect energy infrastructure. I want to thank the men and women of FEMA and the first responders and the law enforcement, which we love and we cherish, and doing a fantastic job and don’t get the kind of recognition that they should get. But actually they do because the people love them, right? The people love them. And we appreciate our law enforcement. Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones. What is the number would you say, John, right now?
John Bel Edwards: (11:01)
We’ve lost a dozen because of the storms.
Donald Trump: (11:03)
Amazing. Well, it’s a tremendous number, but you were thinking it could’ve been a lot worse.
John Bel Edwards: (11:11)
Yes, we had the flood search come in-
Donald Trump: (11:14)
John Bel Edwards: (11:14)
… with [inaudible 00:11:14].
Donald Trump: (11:15)
Amazing. Amazing. So 15 years ago this week, Louisiana was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Katrina seems to be the standard. It seems to be the one that’s… 15, is it actually today?
Pete Gaynor: (11:27)
Donald Trump: (11:28)
15 years ago today. And whether you come from Louisiana or Fifth Avenue in New York City, you know all about Katrina, right?
Pete Gaynor: (11:36)
Donald Trump: (11:36)
That was a bad, bad deal. And devastation, and now the devastation was far greater, even though the storm probably wasn’t as powerful.
John Bel Edwards: (11:48)
Yes, sir, but that was because we had levitators and-
Donald Trump: (11:48)
John Bel Edwards: (11:48)
But the storm itself-
Donald Trump: (11:50)
Are your levies now in good shape?
John Bel Edwards: (11:53)
The best ever.
Donald Trump: (11:54)
The best ever. Good. That’s good. So you came together and you rebuilt. America helped. And here we are today, and you’re going to have this situation taken care of very, very quickly. I’d like to ask Governor John Bell Edwards to say a few words. And then, John, if you would say a few words, and we’ll take a few questions from the press if you’d like. We’ll talk about primarily this storm. Okay?
John Bel Edwards: (12:15)
Well, thank you very much, Mr. President, for visiting today, and we really appreciate your close cooperation and all the communication you’ve had with the members of the Cabinet [inaudible 00:12:28]. It unleashes assistance that we just can’t get without [inaudible 00:12:42]. They’ve never seen that before and we’ve had power outages from here to do there. But it’s affected our water systems. So we have nursing homes, hospitals, jails that have the ability to function [inaudible 00:13:03].
Donald Trump: (13:18)
Are you in need of water too? Bottles of water?
John Bel Edwards: (13:21)
Yes, sir. And we have lots coming from FEMA. [inaudible 00:13:24].
Donald Trump: (15:16)
When you think of it, Louisiana has been through a lot with the COVID and with this couple of other things, and you have all done a very good job.
John Bel Edwards: (15:23)
Donald Trump: (15:23)
Is that right? You’ve done a great job. You’ve done a great job. Thank you very much. And Nick, I’m going to come back and find out at the end of three weeks how popular you are.
Yes, sir. Well this will definitely be a big test.
Donald Trump: (15:39)
This is a big test.
Donald Trump: (15:41)
But you’re going to be very good. You may be very much better if you could be better, which I doubt.
Donald Trump: (15:47)
John, please say a few words. John can you?
Mr. President, a lot of Washington politicians would not be here right now. A lot of presidents.
Panel Speaker: (16:03)
My [inaudible 00:16:00] with an election three months away. And let’s not kid each other. You don’t care about Louisiana. So the question is whether you care more this time than the last time, and I think you’ll do better this time. You did pretty good last time.
Donald Trump: (16:03)
We did good.
Panel Speaker: (16:03)
[inaudible 00:16:00] and you never [inaudible 00:16:29]. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, but I know [inaudible 00:16:39] I’m going to ask. But this is a really bad thing, and it hurt a lot of good people. And these are our people.
Donald Trump: (16:03)
Panel Speaker: (16:03)
Our people. These are the people how live here. They go to work. They obey the law. They pay their taxes, and try to do the right thing [inaudible 00:16:54]. We’re going to need help. And I know that’s not all your job. I got to work with my heavy lifting and Steven and Gary and Mike and [inaudible 00:17:06]. We got to get Congress to go along, but we need you back. We’ll recover from this. Louisianians are tough as a pine but, but this one hit us different. [Or 00:17:38] you wouldn’t have to be here today. A lot of politicians and that says a whole lot about you Mr. Trump.
Donald Trump: (17:44)
Or they would’ve been in a basement.
Panel Speaker: (17:48)
You said that. They didn’t hear that.
Donald Trump: (17:53)
You know, if anybody would like to make a statement, Steve, would you like to make a statement?
I just want to thank you for coming over. Were you the same the relief center operation work in Katrina. People just come together. Neighbors helping neighbors, Cajun Navy, which something that has developed over the last few years of just a bunch of people that are Cajuns from around this area and they know that we have tough times. We’re resilient people and they help everybody else. They’re showing up, the pastor. The fate-based groups have come together after Katrina when there were difficulties hitting, making sure they get everything they need. Secretary Cuomo reached out as well on top of this when you getting that reparation quickly helped us to prepare. These are tough, resilient people to rebuild and knowing that the federal government’s got their back.
Donald Trump: (18:59)
And we do, Steve.
So thank you for coming.
Donald Trump: (19:01)
And we do have their back. Mike Johnson. Would you want to say something?
Mike Johnson: (19:03)
On behalf of what’s been said, Mr. President, the impact of the storm hit our friends here really hard. We have presidents and citizens all the way up to the North that are equally affected [00:03:19] so they’re grateful that you’re here. I have thousands of constituents and people who want me to tell you how much they appreciate you [00:03:29].
Donald Trump: (19:28)
Alright [ crosstalk 00:19:32]. I always will. Fellas? Anybody?
Mike Johnson: (19:36)
district and I used to.
Donald Trump: (19:36)
Let’s go [crosstalk 00:19:37]., go ahead.
Speaker 4: (19:37)
Mr. President, I cannot describe how it is that you’re here today the people that I’m honoring to serve. I was born in 1961 many, many powerful I’ve never seen anyone this fast. In this community, we’re resilient, we’re strong, and, yes, we will rebuild strong with our federal fathers and it’s just been amazing to observe interaction and the cooperation across political or ideological minds. We do need your help, and I cannot describe the humanitarian crisis that we’re facing it’s done with love and courage and apathy and brotherhood and. I think our governor has been incredible and I believe we demonstrated the very best of American constituents.
Donald Trump: (20:54)
So when you’re a young guy [crosstalk 00:20:57] I didn’t know you were so young. He’s a young guy.
Speaker 4: (20:59)
Speaker 4: (21:06)
Mr. President, I’d like to
Donald Trump: (21:07)
Speaker 4: (21:08)
Right now you’ve got Sheriff Tony [crosstalk 00:21:10] and all the first-responders and all the work that they’ve done. [inaudible 00:21:14] four years ago, just a little over four years ago, you came out as President and and basically showed American that you care about people and the economy
Donald Trump: (21:27)
That was the bad one. That was the water more than one. That was a bad one. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Great job you’re doing.
Speaker 5: (21:38)
One thing before we conclude. You signed a and that allows individual citizens. So I’m going to give out a phone number on that those disaster survivors that need assistance from the federal government can register [crosstalk 00:21:52] right now: 1-800-621-3362. Or, you can go online, if you have internet service, disasterassistance.gov. Either way, you can register and we can provide disaster assistance. If you don’t register, you can’t do that. So I encourage everyone in the last 15 hours, or since you signed in 15,000 people, the [crosstalk 00:22:21] so right now let’s just get that phone number off and let’s get people registered.
Donald Trump: (22:28)
Give the information once again, please.
Speaker 5: (22:30)
1-800-621-3362 or disasterassistance.gov to register for assistance.
Donald Trump: (22:40)
Gary? Gary, anything to say?
are your shelter? You wouldn’t have everything they can do, but there’s no, no electricity, no water. There’s a certain level of things are really going to require the government. So we do appreciate it goes back down. We appreciate you being here. One last thing, you know, we’re asking all these people go back to Greenville. If we’re asking you to do that, and we don’t have a safe place, safety floods here in Southwest Louisiana in itself, sexual retailers and really big projects that I think will help provide security to the Southwest area and help ensure that this is the simplest.
Donald Trump: (23:43)
That’s great. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Pete, let me ask you, you’re bringing the big generators down. Are they here yet? Are you bringing, thank you very much. Any questions of any of the folks.
Donald Trump: (24:01)
And any questions of any of the folks?
Donald Trump: (24:07)
Could you possibly take that off because I can’t hear you?
Speaker 6: (24:17)
How’s the storm impacting the threat of the coronavirus? We know National Guard was deployed to help with the pandemic but now it appears more than this.
Donald Trump: (24:21)
Well, they’re doing a very good job down here with respect to that and even pre-storm. But I’ll ask John Bel to say a few words about that. John?
Panel Speaker: (24:28)
Well, thank you. Obviously, we didn’t like losing much of this past week with our community-based testing. We’re still recording more than 10,000 tests a day. But on Monday, we will resume our community and surge testing across the state of Louisiana using the National Guard. Of course our hospitals and clinics continue to test every single day, but we don’t like not testing. We’re going to turn that back on Monday, which is why we have all 6,200 National Guardsmen mobilized today because they’re doing the clean up. They’re cutting the trees down. They’re distributing food and water and ice and tarps. They’re managing warehouses. They’re delivering generators. And on Monday, they’re going to start testing as well. So I appreciate the question but we’re going to get right back on it.
Speaker 7: (25:21)
Mr. President, when is your administration turning on the EPA air monitors to check for toxic chemicals? [inaudible 00:25:21]
Donald Trump: (25:21)
Chad, do you want to answer that question?
Chad Wolf: (25:21)
Me? Is that something to do with tracking?
Panel Speaker: (25:30)
I don’t know the answer to that question. I can get you the answer on it locally.
Panel Speaker: (25:30)
I can tell you that we had to keep today open ground on Thursday, I’m sorry, on Friday. It might have been Thursday, I lose track of time. They’ve been on the ground with the EQ in the Lake Charles, Westlake, Sulphur area monitoring for air quality. They’ve been here since the day the storm hit. I’m quite certain of that.
Speaker 8: (25:49)
Also, do you think that there are more frequent storms [inaudible 00:01:58].
Donald Trump: (26:03)
Go ahead just take it off.
Speaker 8: (26:05)
Mr.President, [inaudible 00:26:05]
Panel Speaker: (26:11)
Well, that was the question I asked these folks. Are the films more frequent? Are they bigger? Now, in all fairness, you probably had your biggest storms. I think you said your biggest one was in the 1800s, but who knows, who knows it might’ve been a very small storm by comparison. There’s no way of really understanding that or knowing that, but the area has been a storm area. There are tremendous advantages to being here. People love it. That’s why they would never leave. They wouldn’t even think about it. But one thing, I have I’ve met a lot of people, not one person would even think about it. I think if they ever even suggested it, that would be the end of them, right? So this is home.
Panel Speaker: (26:50)
John. Would you like to answer that question, they are talking about the storms and frequency, do you see a difference?
Panel Speaker: (26:55)
Well, I ask for the cooperation from the press. I know I was the 24th storm surge but that didn’t stop us. I there yesterday in the motel and This thing is 600 miles wide. We are thankful we didn’t have a storm surge. So imagine 9 feet away comes through that door right now. We are all dead. And that’s what came through. And that not just Lake Charles and South Louisiana. It goes all the way up, North of here, bends over across the state. And hit every one of our Congressional districts. So this was, yeah Katrina people heard about it because of the level was up. But this is bad as I ever seen, folks.
Speaker 8: (28:08)
And I have heard that if the path was different, we got lucky in the sense, maybe not for the people in the way, but frankly, we got a little bit lucky. If the path were over a little bit more, one way or the other, this could have been by far the worst storm, the worst hurricane you’ve ever had.
Panel Speaker: (28:24)
If we had not had gone to the west side of the state, So we had East bends, West bends, and North bends to work to represent and South bends.
Donald Trump: (28:37)
Got a little bit lucky. That’s what I’ve heard from some people. Thank you all very much. We’ll be making another stop soon. Thank you very much.