In Harvey's Wake

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Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

President Donald Trump returned to Texas on Saturday to check in on the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort and meet with victims of the storm that ravaged southeast Texas. 

It was Trump's second post-Harvey trip to the state in four days, after he visited Corpus Christi and Austin on Tuesday. On Saturday, the president traveled the Houston area, which has been reeling from record rainfall and dangerous flooding due to the storm.

Trump got a much more hands-on experience Saturday in Texas than he did Tuesday, when he mostly met with state and local officials and didn't see much wreckage or meet with victims. During a visit to NRG Stadium in Houston, which is being used as a shelter, Trump played with children, received hugs and handshakes and served lunch with First Lady Melania Trump.

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Speaking with reporters as he handed out boxed meals, Trump praised Texans for coming together in the aftermath of Harvey. 

"As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing," Trump said of the storm response. "I think even for the country to watch it and for the world to watch. It’s been beautiful." 

After visiting NRG Stadium, Trump made a stop at a church in Pearland, a Houston suburb. Addressing a crowd of volunteers and storm victims inside the church, Trump lavished praise on Gov. Greg Abbott for his role in the Harvey response and expressed confidence that Texans will recover from the storm more quickly than expected. 

"It’s a long term," Trump said. "We’re talking about — they say two years, three years, but I think that because this is Texas you’ll probably do it in six months."

Before leaving Houston — he was scheduled to visit Louisiana later in the afternoon — Trump made an unplanned stop in a neighborhood that appeared to have been hit hard by Harvey. Damaged furniture and other debris was piled high at the curb of many of the homes, according to a pool report.

In addition to Abbott and the first lady, Trump was accompanied by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and a number of Cabinet officials. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who joined Trump for his visit to Texas on Tuesday, would not be there Saturday, a Cornyn spokeswoman said ahead of the trip. 

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Trump's swing through Houston came two days after Vice President Mike Pence visited the state to tour the damage from Harvey and meet with those affected by it. A number of other administration officials have made their own trips to the state this week, including Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Linda McMahon, administrator of the Small Business Administration.

On Sunday, U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is set to come to Texas to survey storm damage as Congress gets to work on a Harvey aid package. McCarthy, a California Republican, is expected to join members of Congress from Texas on Sunday in Corpus Christi and Monday in the Houston area.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • As the extent of the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey becomes apparent, federal and state relief efforts are coming into focus. [Full story]

  • President Donald Trump was in Texas Tuesday to see the recovery efforts underway in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. [Full story]

  • Houston's historically black neighborhoods were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey — and many don't have the safety net that residents in other parts of town can rely on to recover. [Full story]

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