WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Florida on Friday, preemptively easing federal recovery efforts expected for Hurricane Dorian.
Dorian was expected to strengthen into a major storm Friday and Florida residents were bracing for storm surge and devastating winds at the end of the Labor Day weekend.
The pre-landfall designation, which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis requested a day earlier, makes it easier for the federal government to shift resources to the state. DeSantis requested help from Washington to put generators, water pumps, and berms in place before the storm smashes ashore. He also asked for help standing up shelters.
Trump took the unusual step Thursday of canceling an overseas trip that had been planned for this weekend to "ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on" confronting Dorian.
"It's something very important for me to be here," Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden. "The storm looks like it could be a very, very big one indeed."
Later Thursday, the president tweeted a video in the Rose Garden in which he said his administration was working very, very hard on Hurricane Dorian."
Forecasters expect the storm to hit the southeastern coast as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane Monday into Tuesday, bringing winds that may reach between 130 and 140 mph.
Trump was widely applauded for his administration's handling of Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that smashed ashore in Texas and Louisiana in 2017. But he has faced lingering criticism for the administration's response to Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 hurricane that decimated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands the same year.