President Barack Obama arrived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Tuesday to survey the flooding damage and talk with families that were affected by the event. At a press conference, Obama answered questions about assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Amid criticism of the “late” timing of his visit, Obama also hinted at a plan of how FEMA will help flooding recovery.
During a short press conference, Obama addressed Louisiana residents and said help is on the way. More than 60,000 homes in the Louisiana capital were damaged during the flooding, which left 13 people dead. Obama spoke on behalf of the entire country when he said, “We are heartbroken by the loss of life.” He reminded everyone that recovery is an ongoing effort and they will help as long as they can:
“What I want the people of Louisiana to know is you’re not alone on this, even after the TV cameras leave and the whole country is going to continue to support you and help you, until we get folks back in their homes and lives are rebuilt.”
The president also addressed the criticism surrounding the timing of his visit, as the flooding occurred while he was on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Donald Trump, who visited Louisiana last week, has lobbed a few insults in Obama’s direction for not showing up during the acute phase of recovery.
For his part, Obama was honoring a request from Governor John Bel Edwards, who reportedly felt a VIP like the president would be too much of a distraction to first responders. Obama went on to say that it’s important to focus on the situation on hand and concern themselves with how residents of the area need help:
So let me just remind folks: sometimes once the floodwaters pass, people’s attention spans pass. This is not a one-off. This is not a photo-op issue. This is how do you make sure that a month from now, three months from now, six months from now people still are getting the help that they need.”
The president also applauded FEMA for its efforts to reach $127 million in assistance, but said federal assistance may not be enough and urged other Americans to help out where they can. While in Louisiana, Obama also plans to meet with the families of Alton Sterling and the officers that were killed in Baton Rogue in July.