White House adviser on homeland security Tom Bossert said Friday that Americans should have faith that the federal government has improved its ability to respond to natural disasters in the years since Hurricane Katrina, as Texas and Louisiana prepare for Hurricane Harvey to make landfall Friday night.
"It's not just what's on my mind, but it's on the minds of all emergency managers in our community, especially those in Texas and Louisiana," Bossert told reporters Friday when asked about the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "That experience is still in their memories, still in their experience, their muscle memory, and what we've done is we've gotten a lot better as a government."
"Congress has gotten better at passing laws to allow us the flexibility we need to employ not just deploy resources and assets in advance of an event, which [FEMA Administrator] Brock Long has marshaled heretofore," he said. "He'll employ those resources carefully as the state requests, and we grant that declaration, which I suspect we might."
Hurricane Harvey strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane overnight and is expected to develop into a Category 3 hurricane, making it the first of that type to hit the U.S. in 12 years.
Bossert urged those in the hurricane's path to "take it seriously" and listen to their state and local government officials.
"You have nothing to lose but your life," he said.
Trump has yet to issue an emergency declaration for the hurricane, but Bossert said "that's being contemplated."
He also said if conditions for an emergency declaration are met, which would send federal assistance to affected areas, "the president will be very aggressive in leaning forward in declaring that disaster."