President Joe Biden pressured insurance companies to pay out damage claims, urged residents to seek federal relief and pledged the government’s long-term commitment to recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida as he toured several flooded-out homes in hard-hit Louisiana.
“Hurricane Ida is another reminder we need to be prepared for the next hurricane,” he said in remarks on 3 September in-between visiting with residents in LaPlace, where dozens of people called out for help as floodwaters rushed into their homes and trapped them in attics as the storm hit on 29 August.
“They’re gonna come more frequently and more ferociously,” the president said.
Wearing a white vented shirt and baseball cap, the president hugged a family near a house covered with a blue tarp and surrounded by downed trees, according to White House pool reporters. He also greeted a family near a lawn with a massive tree uprooted by the storm’s deadly winds.
He also hugged a woman who showed him the storm debris from her home.
In his remarks, he demanded insurance companies pay out to impacted homes and not “hide behind the fine print,” and he plugged his “build back better” agenda and infrastructure platform, urging utilities to reinforce transmission lines against growing threats from the climate crisis.
In a meeting with local officials on the state’s response, he said that “things have changed so drastically in terms of the environment – we’ve already crossed certain thresholds.”
“We can’t build back roads, highways, bridges, anything to what it was before,” he said.
“I know you’re hurting,” he told residents in his remarks in LaPlace. “I want you to know we’re going to be here for you … This isn’t about being a Republican or Democrat. We’re Americans.”
The president flew to New Orleans on Friday and briefly met with federal and state lawmakers before boarding a helicopter to tour damage in the state.
From there, he held a roundtable in LaPlace with local officials for updates on the state’s recovery, including the oft-repeated concerns from Governor John Bel Edwards about the lack of adequate fuel supply.
As he met with residents, he said the lack of cell connectivity has limited the availability of information for relief, including now-activated individual assistance from FEMA for hotel vouchers. The president said he and Governor Edwards offered that information while meeting with residents.