Though the storms that rocked East Alabama and parts of Georgia are past, the road to recovery has only just begun.
President Trump and First Lady Melania visited Lee County, Ala. to meet with families of those lost in the storms, first responders, and elected officials while touring the areas that were damaged this past Sunday.
Join WRBL for a look at today’s events, beginning with President Trump and his entourage leaving from Washington, D.C. this morning:
At 10:00 a.m., the President arrived at Joint Base Andrews by Marine One to board Air Force One with First Lady Melania and their 12-year-old son Barron. Boarding the mobile command center with the President, his family, and support staff was Stephanie Grisham, the First Lady’s press secretary and communications officer.
The White House announced the beginning of the travel procedures this morning, “Today, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Lee county, Alabama to survey the devastation from the recent tornadoes, meet with the survivors and local officials, and thank our brave first responders.”
Congressmen Richard Shelby and Mike Rogers joined the President on his flight aboard Air Force One.
After boarding Air Force One, the President landed at Lawson Army Airfield in Fort Benning, Ga. at 11:45 a.m., with the President and First Lady exiting the plane at 11:55. Georgia governor Brian Kemp was present on site to greet the President upon arrival.
Following their landing at Lawson Army Airfield, the President and First Lady boarded Marine One on their way to Auburn Regional Airport, surveying the damaged areas from the air as they flew to Lee County.
Upon landing at Auburn Regional Airport, the President and First Lady were accompanied by security officials and media to tornado-damaged areas in Lee County at 12:45 p.m., making their way to Providence Baptist Church to meet with survivors, victim’s families, and first responders at 12:55.
The motorcade transporting the President passed through areas with severly damaged homes and fallen trees, according to sources within the press pool, before arrving at Providence Baptist.
Crowds of onlookers were present to greet the President, his staff, and his family at each leg of the journey, with many taking videos or photos of the motorcade as it traveled through the damaged areas.
In the afternoon, the President and First Lady met with family members who lost four relatives in Sunday’s storms before greeting other survivors and surveying the recovery efforts.
The President said “I saw this. And it’s hard to believe,” after seeing the extent of the destruction in Beauregard, but praised the work first responders and Governor Ivey have done to aid those affected by the storms.
Ada Ingram, a volunteer in the recovery effort, was glad that the President had come to Alabama.
“I enjoyed him coming. I think it’s a godsend. I’m sorry, the situation is bad. And there are going to be people who will say why did he come to my town. I don’t know why. I don’t know why the hurricane happened. But there is a reason.”
Ingram also told reporters that the President had signed several hats and bibles, earning “roars of applause,” from the crowds gathered in the area.
At such an emotional and vulnerable time, citizens in East Alabama found positivity in the President’s visit before he left, with volunteer Alyssa Benson saying “This is my first time experiencing something like this and seeing the motorcade, it’s an incredible experience.”
“He was very compassionate,” Copeland said. “He and Melania were very compassionate with people. He went above and beyond to spend time with each one of them. He loved on them and he reassured them. He told them how to get help and where to get help. He really explained it to them. Some of those people have been devastated and they have not yet reached out to get help. So, he did that.”
Close to 3:00 p.m., the President and First Lady left Beauregard to return to Auburn Regional Airport and fly back to Lawson Army Airfield aboard Marine One.
The President, his staff, and those that had accompanied them on the visit to Lee County arrived back at Lawson Army Airfield at 3:15 to board Air Force One before taking off on their way to Mar-A-Lago in Florida.
President Trump “simply mouthed ‘thank you’ to the press” before boarding the aircraft and leaving Georgia.