President Donald Trump expressed surprise as Hurricane Dorian slammed the Bahamas on Sunday and approached the US East Coast on Sunday, hours after being updated to a Category Five storm.
“I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category Five,” Trump said during a televised briefing at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.
“I’ve seen some Category Fours, you don’t even see them that much,” he said. “But a Category Five is something that, I don’t know if I’ve ever even heard the term, other than I know it’s there. That’s the ultimate and that’s what we have, unfortunately.”
Three Category 5 hurricanes have hit the mainland US or US territories, including Puerto Rico, since Trump was inaugurated: Irma and Maria in 2017, and Michael in 2018. Between them, the storms caused about $165 billion in damage.
Trump made a similar comment in 2017, saying of Hurricane Irma at the White House Historical Association dinner that “I never even knew a Category 5 existed.”
Since 2000 there have been more than a dozen of powerful storms measuring the highest on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The National Hurricane Center says storms of that magnitude cause “catastrophic damage” and render the affected area uninhabitable for weeks or months.
While at FEMA Trump toured the agency’s national response coordination centre and commended the efforts of Federal and state personnel, the US military and others for their work on preparedness for Dorian.
The president returned to Washington on Sunday from Camp David, Maryland, where he’d been for two nights after cancelling a trip to Poland so he could better monitor preparations for the hurricane. Vice President Mike Pence went to Poland in Trump’s place.
Trump spent several hours Saturday at his private golf club in Northern Virginia, flying in by helicopter from the rustic presidential retreat. While there he received hourly updates on the approach of Dorian, according to the White House. He also had a briefing on the storm late Saturday afternoon.
The White House doesn’t routinely confirm Trump’s golf games although it sometimes releases the names of his playing partners. Photos of Trump golfing will appear on social media from time to time. The presidential press pool, which wasn’t at Camp David, spent much of Saturday at a location near the golf club.
Other tweets by Trump on Sunday include one about actress Debra Messing, who recently has said those in Hollywood who attend the president’s fundraisers should be named.