President Trump to Irma-ravaged Florida: 'We are there for you 100 percent'

By Holly Gregory, Anchor/Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, September 14, 2017, 6:22 PM EDT

President Donald Trump visitied Naples and Fort Myers Thursday morning and met with federal and state officials, as well as Floridians impacted by Hurricane Irma. 

The president, First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence heard firsthand from residents who are dealing with damage to their homes, no power and struggling to deal with dwindling supplies of water and gas. 

The president's group, along with Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio met with some tired, sweaty, frustrated folks.

Two-thirds of Lee County's customers and almost 80 percent of Collier County remain without power and entire communities remain inundated. The community does consider itself lucky, however, that the storm hooked just a bit to the east.

"We have been very, very fast and we had to be," Trump said at an airport hangar. The president said his administration is "trying to keep them as happy as we can under the circumstances. In many cases, they've lost their homes and it's a tough situation."

Everywhere here, trees are down, powers out to thousands, pieces of mobile homes scattered around everywhere. 

Jennifer and Peter Velardi's Mobile home was demolished in the storm. Today they were served lunch by the president, vice president and first lady.

"I'm happy they're all here, " said Jennifer. "It seems hopeful, because it's really devastating."

The couple registered for emergency FEMA aid two days ago, and were glad to see the president visiting their hard-hit community.

“They came and greeted everybody and reassured us that help is on the way," said Peter. "It will be here soon."

The president monitored Irma over this past weekend from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

Nearly half of Florida was engulfed by Irma, which left flooded streets, damaged homes and displaced residents in its wake.

Widespread outages led to long lines outside of the relatively few stores, gas stations and restaurants that had reopened.

The situation was even worse to the south in Collier County, home to Naples. Collier, too, has 600 people still living in shelters.

Resident Kathy Rice considers herself fortunate. She is one of the few people in this community who did not lose her home.

She was also greeted by the president today. She believes he will keep his promise to help out for the long haul.

"’The fact that he came here, instead of the rich section, he just cares for us, the little people," Rice said. "I consider myself a little person.  I don’t have anything."

As of Thursday morning, the number of homes and businesses without electricity in Florida was 2.69 million, according to the agency. That's 25.6 percent of all customers in the state.

"We're with you today. We're going to be with you tomorrow and we're going to be with you until Florida rebuilds bigger and better than ever before," Pence said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.