Hours after visiting neighborhoods torn by Hurricane Irma on Thursday, President Donald Trump said he was unaware how strong storms could get.
“I never even knew a Category 5 existed,” Trump said, even though he has owned his Palm Beach estate of Mar-a-Lago, which sits in a low-lying evacuation zone threatened by hurricane storm surge, for 32 years.
Speaking Thursday night at the White House Historical Association reception, the president sounded awed by the one-two punch of hurricanes Harvey and Irma landing over the past three weeks in Texas and Florida.
“Some of you are from Texas and some of you are from Florida,” he said. “And you both got hit. In Texas you got hit with the largest amount of water anybody has ever seen. I guess the largest ever recorded. And in Florida you got hit with the strongest winds ever recorded. It actually hit the Keys with a — it was a Category 5. I never even knew a Category 5 existed. And they suffered greatly.”
Irma was actually a Category 4 hurricane by the time it hit the Keys.
Trump continued to praise government responders who have had to deal with two disasters at once.
“It’s been a rough time for Florida. But the first responders and the Coast Guard, and to all of the people — FEMA — all of the people that worked so hard have done an A-plus job,” he said of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “But in both bases, and in other cases such as Alabama, Louisiana, and plenty of others — Puerto Rico; the Virgin Islands was hit brutally, brutally. It got hit dead center with a strong five. And it's almost not standing, but the people are standing. And some incredible things have happened.”