President Trump pitches in to help at shelter, church in Houston

Trump to also visit Lake Charles during second trip to region since Harvey

By Click2Houston.com Staff , The Associated Press , Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter

HOUSTON - President Donald Trump arrived in Houston Saturday morning to survey the damage and destruction left by Harvey.

The president and first lady landed shortly after 11 a.m. in Air Force One at Ellington Airport.

VIDEO: President Trump arrives in Houston 

It is Trump's second visit to Texas in Harvey's aftermath and comes a day after Trump sent lawmakers an initial request for a $7.9 billion down payment toward Harvey relief and recovery efforts.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with Harvey survivors who are living in a shelter.

The Trumps walked through NRG Center in Houston, spending time in an area of the shelter designated for children. They posed for photographs and shook hands as they listened to people's stories.

VIDEO: President Trump visits NRG stadium 

Trump at one point leaned down and cupped a little boy's face while they spoke and then gave him a high five. He lifted a girl up and gave her a kiss.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott accompanied them. Abbott and Trump stopped at a table piled high with toys and books to speak with a family.

National Guard troops at the center shouted to Trump, "we're proud of you" and "you're doing a fantastic job."

Trump also helped serve lunch at a Houston shelter for people displaced by Harvey.

Wearing plastic gloves and a wide smile, Trump stood next to the first lady and handed out hot dogs in white containers with the Red Cross logo.

As he briefly served lunches, Trump shook hands and posed for photos. He was heard asking one man about his military service.

Trump then made a quick pit stop near a church in suburban Houston to speak with residents affected by Harvey and its flooding.

PHOTOS: President Trump, Melania Trump in Houston to survey Harvey relief efforts

Trump on Saturday chatted with people who told him that the now-dry streets had recently been covered with water.

The president said: "These are people that have done a fantastic job of getting things together."

He then pulled a man wearing a red "Trump" T-shirt in front of photographers, telling him, "Look at this guy. You just became famous."

One man joked that he thought he'd see Noah's ark coming down his once-flooded streets.

Evacuees take selfies with Trump

Several evacuees not only met with President Trump, but were able to get a hand shake and selfie.

“We didn't really know that he was going to be here today,” said Shana Miles, whose apartment was flooded. "We were there sitting eating our food and they were like, 'Trump’s over there, Trump is over there!"

VIDEO: President Trump visits Houston, takes selfies 

Miles and many others got up and made their way over to meet the president at the NRG Center. Miles said the president was walking out the door, and that’s when she called his name, he turned around and came back.

“He talked to me and I asked him, for the people that's really up in here, God knows that I need it, is we really going to get the help that we need and he was like, ‘yes,’” Miles said.

She and her friend, Lakisha Collins, said after meeting the President, their opinion about him changed.

"The African-American community really wasn't for him, including me. and when she asked him if we're going to get the help that we needed and he said, ‘Yes,’  it was heartwarming and we thought he was really sincere about what he said and makes me look in him in a whole different way,” Collins said.

Some were skeptical of the president’s visit. 

“It was treated as a photo op,” said Henna Haroon, who was volunteering. “And this is my second time volunteering here and I know so many people who are doing such a tremendous work volunteering and trying to help people who are undocumented and scared and who are working in our city and state. I would just prefer that to be respected rather than the entire thing being treated as a photo opportunity.”

County Judge Meets president

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett also met with the President.

"It gave me an opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation about debris removal and FEMA and what are we going to do, I've got to say, he turned to the person who was there and said, ‘Make this happen,’ and we've already got communication from the White House saying it's going to happen,” Emmett said.

 

He said the President also signed a wall at NRG Center, and so did Abbott and Emmett.

As Trump prepared to depart he said: "good luck everybody" and "good stuff."

The Trumps also visited Lake Charles, Louisiana, later Saturday.

Vice President Mike Pence, who traveled to Texas on Thursday to visit a damaged Baptist church, cleared away tree limbs and debris and hugged storm victims.

Trump met Friday with evangelical leaders to promote his proclamation of Sunday as a national day of prayer for those affected by the hurricane along with relief organizations heavily involved in the recovery. 

"I'm confident that this will be an opportunity for the president, on behalf of the entire nation, to show compassion and empathy for those who have lost homes and have had their lives interrupted and in some cases have lost loved ones," said Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and one of the evangelical leaders who met with the president.

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Copyright 2017 by KPRC Click2Houston. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.