The White House says it is keeping a close watch on Hurricane Harvey's developments and staying in touch with Louisiana leaders about the potential threat to the state after the storm makes landfall in Texas.
A top White House adviser said Friday that Trump is concerned about the threat to Louisiana and particularly New Orleans as the slow-moving Harvey tracks back east.
"(A) concern from the President’s perspective after hearing the briefing was not only that the people in harm’s way in Texas be prepared and be evacuated as appropriate, but that the people in Louisiana, should the forecast wobble in any direction, also be prepared," said White House national security adviser Tom Bossert.
Over the course of Friday, Trump tweeted about the Category 4 storm – the most powerful to hit mainland United States in more than a decade – at least half a dozen times. He repeatedly urged those who live in the hurricane's path to heed the advice of state and local leaders.
"Closely monitoring #HurricaneHarvey developments & here to assist as needed," he wrote Friday morning.
Bossert also stressed that residents of Louisiana and Texas should follow guidance from state and local officials.
"Don't worry about parsing whether they are right or wrong, if they are telling you to get out, listen to them," he said. "Listen to their advice and you'll be better off for it."
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who took office in January 2016, has been in regular contact with the White House and has personally spoken to Trump.
"Gov. John Bel Edwards in Louisiana has a strong handle on what he's doing," Bossert said.
But the storm could prove to be the first real test of Trump's leadership in crisis.
The last "major hurricane," meaning Category 3 or stronger, to hit the U.S. was Wilma, two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.
Harvey is expected to become the largest natural disaster since Trump took office in January.
The Trump administration does not currently have a permanent Homeland Security secretary, which oversees FEMA. Since Trump elevated Gen. John Kelly to chief of staff, Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke has been serving at the top in an acting capacity.
But the White House has repeatedly sought to tamp down any concerns about how prepared it is for a potentially catastrophic natural disaster.
"We couldn't have a better team, to be honest," Bossert said. "We're in good hands on the federal level."
"This is right up President Trump's alley ... He is acutely focused on making sure that the American people in the storm’s path have what they need," he said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency as a rapidly-strengthening…
The White House, likely recognizing the high political stakes, spent much of Friday highlighting Trump's involvement in preparing for the storm. Trump even tweeted a photo of himself meeting with Kelly and Bossert during a briefing on the storm.
"His first concern was the life safety and evacuation timing. Are people getting out of harm’s way that need to get out of harm's way? And then his second concern was, do we have the appropriate resources to bring to bear? That was a question he directed at Administrator Long and Elaine Duke. Brock Long reported to him that we did, in fact, have all those resources pre-deployed," Bossert said of their briefings.
Then-President George W. Bush faced backlash over his handling of Katrina, and the storm was largely seen as a black eye for then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
Bossert, who was at FEMA during Katrina, repeatedly tried to downplay any comparisons between Harvey and Katrina, while acknowledging mistakes made during the past storm.
"Katrina was a massive event," he said. "It was a staggering event that took place in just the perfect condition, and we had a flooding event associated with levy failure and other things. So I don’t want people to draw those comparisons. I won’t characterize the magnitude of this event until it’s over."
Louisiana leaders met with the newly minted head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency …
After historic floods swept across Louisiana last August, then-candidate Trump repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama for not coming to Louisiana more quickly in the wake of the flooding. Trump and then-running mate Mike Pence came to Louisiana a week after the floods and before Obama arrived.
In a tweet at the time, Trump fired at Obama for "golfing" instead of tending to the flood crisis.
Trump left Friday for Camp David in Maryland, but tweeted that he would continue closely monitoring Harvey.
"It is just as well-resourced as the White House, so he’ll have access to anybody, all the communications means that he might need," said Bossert, who is also going to be at Camp David this weekend. "So it’s not a trip. I wouldn’t characterize it as a trip."
As he prepared to board Marine One to take off for the presidential compound, Trump was asked if he had a message for those in Harvey's path and replied, "Good luck."
Though Edwards issued a state disaster declaration for the entire state ahead of Harvey's landfall, the White House has not issued a federal declaration, which has a higher threshold.
Bossert said Friday that a review was being conducted to determine when it would be appropriate to issue a federal disaster declaration.