Sept. 3 (UPI) — President Joe Biden traveled to New Orleans and other Louisiana locations Friday to tour areas impacted by Hurricane Ida, promising to help local leaders and residents in their recovery.
He landed at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport around 1 p.m. Biden met with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and received a briefing from local leaders at St. John Parish’s Emergency Operations Center in one of the hardest-hit areas.
There were 811,000 customers without electricity in Louisiana on Friday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us. Immediately after the storm made landfall, more than 1 million were without power.
“You’ve got to be frustrated about the restoration of power, and I understand,” Biden said during the meeting.
“There’s a heck of a lot more work to do and that’s why we’re here today.”
Biden also toured a neighborhood in LaPlace and was expected to take an aerial tour of Laffite, Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and Lafourche parishes before meeting with local leaders in the evening.
He thanked those in LaPlace for welcoming him, adding, “I know you’re hurting.”
“Hurricane Ida is another reminder that we need to be prepared for the next hurricane,” Biden said.
Biden has approved a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana, which opens up federal financial assistance.
Louisiana has been lashed by multiple hurricanes over the past couple of years. A year ago, Hurricane Laura caused significant damage across Louisiana and then-President Donald Trump was criticized for delaying federal help.
“We thank President Biden for coming down to help him understand the magnitude of the situation here in southeast Louisiana this Friday,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said Thursday, according to WWL-TV. “We know from bitter experience with Hurricane Laura that aid can be delayed too long.”
Edwards said Biden should get a better understanding of what Louisianans are going through by physically visiting.
“Getting eyes on the damage in person, rather than reading about it, rather than hearing about it, rather than seeing it on TV is really important,” Edwards said Wednesday, The Hill reported. “Because this is going to be a marathon, and we’re going to need a lot of help from our federal partners for a long time to come. And we need some of that help immediately.”
Some 50,000 households in Louisiana have received $500 payments for emergency needs while FEMA distributed $77 million in disaster relief to the state, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.