Obama promises support to Louisiana after
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[August 24, 2016]
By Ayesha Rascoe
BATON ROUGE, La. (Reuters) - U.S. President
Barack Obama walked door to door in an East Baton Rouge Parish
neighborhood on Tuesday hugging people and offering assurances that the
country would help them recover from some of the worst floods ever
recorded in Louisiana.
"What I want the people of Louisiana to know is, you’re not alone on
this, even after the TV cameras leave," Obama said after touring brick
homes whose lawns were cluttered with slabs of drywall and soaked sofas
More than 2-1/2 feet (more than 76 cm) of rain fell on parts of the
state in the worst U.S. disaster since 2012's Superstorm Sandy. At least
13 deaths have been attributed to flooding and more than 60,000 homes
have been damaged.
More than 100,000 people have applied for federal aid, Obama said, and
so far more than $120 million has been approved. Many people did not
have flood insurance.
How much will be needed to help residents has yet to be determined,
Obama said, noting that Congress may need to approve more aid. He urged
Americans to volunteer and to donate money to the Red Cross.
"This is not a one-off. This is not a photo op issue. This is, how do
you make sure a month from now, three months from now, six months from
now, people still are getting the help that they need," Obama said.
Naketa Woods, who owns a home in Castle Place, stood in her driveway in
the sweltering heat with her husband waiting to meet with Obama. She
said their home was filled with 3 feet of water and they lost all their
furniture and two vehicles.
"To have the president come, it means a lot to show that he cares and
the federal government cares about what we are going through," Woods
Obama was criticized last week for not cutting short his New England
vacation to go to Louisiana.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who was in Louisiana on
Friday, said on Twitter, "President Obama should have gone to Louisiana
days ago, instead of golfing. Too little, too late!"
However, Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards had asked Obama to delay
his visit because presidential visits require a huge retinue of Secret
Service agents and tie up local and state law enforcement resources
needed elsewhere in disasters. Edwards had asked Trump not to visit for
a photo opportunity.
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President Barack Obama greets a resident as he tours a
flood-affected neighborhood in Zachary, Louisiana, U.S., August 23,
2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Obama had received updates on the flooding from U.S. Homeland
Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Federal Emergency Management
Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, both of whom went to Louisiana.
"Nobody gives a hoot whether you're Democrat or Republican. What
they care about is making sure they're getting the drywall out, the
carpet out, there's not any mold building," he said.
Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, a Republican,
dismissed the debate. "I'm just glad he's here," Nungesser told
MSNBC in an interview. He said he hoped Obama's visit would bring
hope to the state's residents.
"We're going to need a lot of help, a lot of prayers, and a lot of
work to get back," Nungesser said.
The White House said that while in Baton Rouge Obama would meet with
the family of Alton Sterling, a black man shot dead by white police
officers in July and the families of officers of the Baton Rouge
Police Department and East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office who were
killed and injured in an attack that month.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Roberta Rampton, and Dustin
Volz in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Toni Reinhold)
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