WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — During his first visit to flood-ravaged southern Louisiana, President Barack Obama said Tuesday the nation is “heartbroken” by the loss of life in last week’s flooding.
Obama arrived in Louisiana’s capital city Tuesday to get a first-hand view of the damage from flooding that killed 13 people and forced thousands from their homes. He was greeted at Baton Rouge’s airport by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and the state’s U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and David Vitter.
Obama said he wants Louisianans to know they’re not alone in recovering from the flood, even after the news cameras leave. He says the government will keep helping until people are back in their homes and their lives are rebuilt.
The president had taken some criticism by opting to finish a two-week family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, before inspecting the flood damage personally and meeting with residents.
The White House said the president is willing to assume criticism about “optics” as long as the federal response is up to par.
“The survivors of the flooding in Louisiana are not well served by a political discussion; they’re well served by a competent, effective, strong, coordinated government response,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. “And the federal government has certainly done our part in the first eight to 10 days after this disaster, but there’s a long road ahead.”
Flooding has damaged some 60,000 homes, and thousands of people are in or looking for temporary housing.
Republican presidential nomineevisited Baton Rouge on Friday, hugging victims and driving through some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods, where the entire contents of homes were piled on the curb.
On Twitter Tuesday, Trump criticized the president, saying Obama “should have gone to Louisiana days ago, instead of golfing. Too little, too late!”
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton issued a statement Monday saying she would visit the communities affected by the flooding “at a time when the presence of a political campaign will not disrupt the response, to discuss how we can and will rebuild together.”
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