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Greg Abbott: Response to Tropical Storm Harvey shows ‘what Texas is all about’

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Jessica Campbell hugs Jonathan Fitzgerald after riding out Hurricane Harvey in an apartment on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Jessica said is became very scary once Hurricane Harvey hit their town. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall by next Wednesday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday during an interview on CNN's "New Day" that the state's response in the wake of a devastating storm shows "what Texas is all about." (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday during an interview on CNN's "New Day" that the state's response in the wake of a devastating storm shows "what Texas is all about."

Abbott, a Republican, said that 30,000-40,000 Texans are in shelters after Tropical Storm Harvey flooded Houston and surrounding areas, and that number is expected to rise.

"All of our attention is focused on saving lives," Abbott said.

When CNN's Alisyn Camerota asked Abbott about Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s decision not to issue an evacuation order, the governor said that in the aftermath of the storm, “all of our attention is focused on saving lives.”

"As you mentioned, it's been so heartwarming to see not only the first responders go in there and save lives and rescue people, but Texans helping Texans, which is the way that we always do it. Texans taking a boat out and bringing people to safety, that’s what Texas is all about."

According to CNN, Abbott and Turner reportedly disagreed on evacuating the city prior to the storm. Abbott appeared to call for an evacuation at a press conference, while Turner raised concerns about the city’s residents getting stranded on highways during the storm.

Pressed on Turner’s decision, Abbott replied, "Listen, the evacuation issue is something that can't be second-guessed at this time because we have to focus our priority on saving lives."

Abbott said President Donald Trump has been "very gracious and very helpful," in the wake of the storm. He added that he'd like to hear from the president that he understands the "magnitude of the damage that Texas has faced."

"This is going to be a very long-term project, helping Texas dig out," Abbott said. "This is going to be a year or multi-year process and I assume the president will be echoing that and I assume the president will be very concerned about what he sees, about the damage that Texas has suffered."

Trump is expected to visit Texas on Tuesday.

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