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Trump promises additional Michael aid on visit to Georgia

By
Nicholas Sakelaris and Daniel Uria
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump return to the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday after surveying damage caused by Hurricane Michael in Florida and Georgia. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump return to the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday after surveying damage caused by Hurricane Michael in Florida and Georgia. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 15 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump promised to ask Congress for additional disaster aid funding in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael as he and first lady Melania Trump arrived in Georgia on Monday.

The president and the first lady were greeted by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal at Robins Air Force Base in Houston County before visiting the Red Cross Command Center in Macon to speak with state and local officials. They arrived in Georgia after visiting Florida, both states hit hard by Michael, which made landfall last week as a Category 4 hurricane.

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Trump remarked that weather had "been a factor" throughout his presidency, while noting "they say the worst hurricanes were 50 years ago."

"Frankly for years, we had none and then, the last couple of years we had more. Hopefully, we'll go back to many years of having none. We've been hit by the weather, there is no doubt about it," he said.

RELATED Michael death toll rises to 18; searches for missing people continue

The pair later visited a group of pecan, cotton and soybean farmers at Charlie Stewart Farm in Macon where Trump spoke with farmers about the damage to their property and said he would work with with local and state officials to provide relief.

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"We're working on it. You know that, right?" he said. "You'll be fine."

Earlier Monday, the president and first lady witnessed first-hand the impact of Hurricane Michael on northwest Florida.

RELATED 17 dead, 763,000 without power in Michael's aftermath

The pair landed in Panama City around 11 a.m. and were given a tour of the area by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Trump praised Scott and said the chief federal priority is food, electricity and safety for residents.

Panama City was the first stop for the Trumps on the tour Monday of storm-ravaged regions in the Southeast.

Federal Emergency Management director Brock Long visited several towns along Florida's Panhandle and said the destruction is the worst he's ever seen. The storm-related death toll rose to 19 Monday, but could climb.

RELATED Hurricane Leslie downgraded to tropical storm as it churns toward Portugal, Spain

In one of the hardest hit areas, Mexico Beach, backhoes and other tractors dug through crushed buildings to look for 250 missing residents. Mayor Al Cathey said 250 people stayed behind when the hurricane arrived.

"If we lose only one life, to me that's going to be a miracle," Cathey said.

Officials said relief supplies have arrived and cellular service is returning.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., raised concerns about people trapped in isolated rural communities when he appeared on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.

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"We are talking about poor people, many of them older, miles from each other, isolated in many cases from roads, including some dirt roads that are cut off right now," Rubio said. "We haven't been able to reach those people in a number of days."

Hurricane Michael ripped the roof off a high school gymnasium in Panama City and the court is covered in debris.

Amid the wreckage along Mexico Beach, one of the few remaining structures is a newly built beach house belonging to radiologist Lebron Lackey, who used 40-foot pilings and special screws to make sure the home could survive a hurricane.

From his primary home in Tennessee, he watched a live stream of Hurricane Michael's 155 mph winds whipping his roof.

"It would buck like an airplane wing," he said. "I kept expecting to see it tear off. We wanted to build it for the big one. We just never know we'd find the big one so fast."

Hurricane Michael damage in Florida

Hurricane Michael Damages Mexico Beach
From left to right, Spc. Sean Westmoreland, Spc. Herbert Joyner, and Pfc. Jeremy Grant, from the 153rd Charlie Troop in Tallahassee, hang the American flag on a 4x4 of debris after Hurricane Michael hit in Mexico Beach, Fla. on Saturday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

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