President Trump to view Hurricane Irma damage in Florida on Thursday

White House: Trump to visit Florida on Thursday

President Trump to view Hurricane Irma damage in Florida on Thursday

FORT MYERS, Fla., Sept 14 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump praised first responders in storm-ravaged Florida on Thursday for limiting the U.S. death toll from devastating Hurricane Irma, the second major storm to hit the United States this year.

Photo Mr. Trump surveyed flooded areas from Maine One in Naples, Fla., on Thursday.

He vowed to return to Florida.

"We're going to see some of the folks and make sure they're happy", Mr. Trump said in brief remarks to reporters in Fort Myers, acknowledging that many had lost their homes in the destruction.

Mrs. Trump will also accompany her husband to visit Florida along with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen.

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"I want to thank everybody", Trump said.

"I can tell you the White House has been outstanding".

"We're with you today".

Irma hit Florida about two weeks after Hurricane Harvey plowed into Houston, killing about 60 people and causing some $180 billion in damage, mostly from flooding.

Throughout the storms, Trump has been eager to project a high level of federal competence and to avoid pitfalls made by some of his predecessors in the face of natural disasters. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Florida previous year by about 1 percentage point. "If you go back into the teens, you'll see storms that were as big or bigger".

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Traveling to the region so quickly came with challenges, however; because Trump did not want to divert resources from search and recovery efforts, he was unable to view the damage up close or meet Texans displaced by the storm.

Trump tweeted that he wanted to "meet with our great Coast Guard, FEMA and numerous fearless first responders". White House officials acknowledged that assuming the "comforter in chief" role was harder than it appears on television. Utility officials warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored.

"I don't know what he's going to do. So I hope he runs for the Senate".

Trump's visit offered him the chance to see how people are coping with Irma's aftermath and how the Federal Emergency Management Agency is responding.

FEMA also said it had moved 3.8 million meals and 3.4 million liters of water to states in the Southeast that were affected by the storm.

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As of Thursday morning, the number of homes and businesses without electricity in Florida was 2.69 million, according to the agency. Many communities are still cleaning up or without power or air conditioning.

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