Obama detours to Louisiana to discuss hurricane recovery
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
President Barack Obama, center, meets with local residents during his tour of the Bridgewood neighborhood in LaPlace, La., in Saint John the Baptist Parish, as he tours the area to survey the ongoing response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Isaac on Monday.
By NBC's Ali Weinberg
NEW ORLEANS, La. – At the end of a four-day trip filled with campaign events, President Barack Obama put politics aside to visit a Louisiana town hit by Hurricane Isaac and talk with local officials about the recovery effort.
In brief remarks after touring part of the town of LaPlace in St. John the Baptist Parish, the president said he was impressed by the resiliency of the residents.
“There is enormous faith here, enormous strength here you can see it in these families,” he said. “They were just devastated a few days ago and they're already smiling and laughing,” he said.
Residents struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, which has left behind feet of standing water. In Louisiana, about 2,500 people are still in shelters. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.
Before his tour of the neighborhood, the president was briefed by local parish officials about the situation in the area and noted that the biggest concern was helping those who had been displaced.Local reports say St. John the Baptist Parish experienced up to 18 inches of floodwater from the hurricane, an unprecedented level of flooding for the parish, according to an administration official.
“Obviously, right now we’re still in recovery mode,” he said.
Obama was accompanied by Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who met him at the airport alongside a bipartisan group that included New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, Reps. Cedric Richmond and Jeff Landry and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate.
“In the past we sometimes haven’t seen the kind of coordination needed for these kinds of disasters,” Obama said.Thanking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Obama subtly referred to the recovery efforts to mitigate the damage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 under former President George W. Bush, which were widely viewed as a failure.
But he also emphasized that this type of natural disaster transcends political labels.
“When disasters like this happen we set aside whatever petty disagreements we might have,” Obama said. “Nobody’s a Democrat or a Republican.”
The president returns to Washington, D.C. on Monday evening. He heads Tuesday to Norfolk, Va. for a campaign event.