“They haven't seen anything like what's coming at us in 25, 30 years, maybe ever. It's tremendously big and tremendously wet, tremendous amounts of water,” Trump said, before an apparent reference to Hurricane Harvey's toll on the Houston area last year. “It could very well be very similar to Texas in the sense that it's tremendous amounts of water ... probably more water than we've ever seen in a storm or a hurricane.”
Trump also touted his response to last year’s deadly hurricane in Puerto Rico, which according to one study, officially killed nearly 3,000 people.
"I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all because it is an island," he said. "I actually think it is one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about."
Late-night comedian Stephen Colbert played a clip from the briefing on “The Daily Show,” where he slammed Trump for making the dangerous hurricane “all about himself.”
“He's right. It was definitely unsung. Maybe because no one could plug in their mics because it took 11 months to restore power,” Colbert joked. “So you know what? Let's sing it now: Youuuuuu totally suuuuucked! Take your paper towels and cram them.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz retweeted video of Colbert’s late-night roast and called Trump's remarks “despicable.”
“Success? Federal response according to Trump in Puerto Rico a success? If he thinks the death of 3,000 people [is] a success God help us all,” she tweeted separately. “Pres Trump thinks losing 3,000 lives is a success. Can you imagine what he thinks failure looks like?”
Trump appeared to brush off the criticism as Hurricane Florence headed toward the East Coast, where North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are forecast to see the worst damage.
Most of Trump's Tuesday night tweets were aimed at lawmakers, including “Crazy Maxine Waters,” and the “unfairly set up” Russia collusion probe.
The White House has approved North Carolina and South Carolina’s requests for federal emergency declarations, allowing for greater coordination among states and federal agencies. Trump also approved a federal emergency declaration for Virginia.