President Obama has arrived in Louisiana, waiting 10 days after the disaster to visit with storm victims there. His delay in getting to the disaster area has been getting a lot of attention because of things he has said in the past about such a scenario.
Prior to assuming the Presidency, Obama said, “You give me this office and in turn my, fears, doubts, insecurities, foibles, need for sleep, family life, vacations, leisure is gone. I am giving myself to you…I think those who make mistakes , I suspect in the President’s office, haven’t fully thought through the dimensions of that choice.”
Obama was also critical of failures of government in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and called-out President Bush for not ending his vacation immediately to be on the ground with storm victims.
In a televised speech from Louisiana in his bid for the White House, Obama said, “We can talk about what happened for a few days in 2005 and we should. About a President who only saw the people from an airplane instead of down here on the ground trying to provide comfort and aid.”
Obama wasn’t the only one critical of President Bush for not being on the ground in Louisiana immediately after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. Hillary Clinton was very vocal about not only her dismay in the government’s response, but the lack of a President on the ground in the disaster area immediately after. She bought radio ads in which she said, “If you’re stuck on a rooftop or stranded at the Superdome during a hurricane, you’re invisible to the President, even when you’re on CNN. Well, you’re not invisible to me and you should never be invisible to the President of the United States.”
It took President Bush 3 days to tour the damage zone by plane and 5 days to get on the ground in the disaster area, where he met with storm victims during an extended visit. At that time, President Bush also overhauled FEMA leadership, changed federal relief and aid processes, and worked with President Bill Clinton and his father, President George Bush Senior to create the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund which provided relief and rebuilding resources to help the victims of the disaster.
Today, President Obama has scheduled 40 minutes to spend time with storm victims there. He’s currently with his motorcade in the Castle Place neighborhood of Zachary, LA, walking up to storm victims in the street offering them hugs. As you can see from this press pool picture, the streets are lined with the contents of the homes that were damaged/destroyed by the floods. He is scheduled to make remarks to the press soon and then leave the state.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards advised FEMA and the White House that it may be more appropriate to have the President arrive after initial rescue efforts, but said the “President is always welcome to visit our state whenever he wants.” The Governor also said at no point did he dec
On Friday, Presidential Candidate Donald Trump spent 3 hours in areas hit hard by the storm, meeting with storm survivors, members of the National Guard, and other first responders involved in the recovery efforts there. Trump also made a $100,000 donation to a local church at ground zero that was facilitating recovery and aid missions there. On Sunday, Presidential Candidate Jill Stein arrived in Baton Rouge and spent Monday working with relief and recovery workers in areas hit-hard by the storm; she used a live-stream from her campaign Facebook page to showcase some of her efforts there. On Friday, Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton said she spoke with the Governor to express her sympathy for those impacted by the floods. Yesterday, her campaign reiterated she would not come to Louisiana anytime soon. “The best way to help Louisianans affected by these terrible floods is to make sure they have the resources they need today. I am committed to visiting communities affected by these floods, at a time when the presence of a political campaign will not disrupt the response, to discuss how we can and will rebuild together,” she said. On Saturday, Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson made a Facebook post about the floods: “Time and time again, our nation and our people have shown that we are at our best in times of adversity. Let’s do it again for our fellow citizens in Louisiana.” His campaign has made no mention of visiting Louisiana either.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards disagreed with Hillary Clinton’s response though. In a live interview with CNN, he said visits by the likes of Donald Trump and Jill Stein bring much needed attention to storm victims and their needs, adding that because this wasn’t a named tropical system responsible for the damage, media coverage –and especially donations to charities such as the Red Cross—have been very light.
As of this morning, more than 110,000 residents and households registered for assistance from FEMA: more than 60,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and at least 13 people were killed. As of Sunday, 2,817 people were still in shelters.
Louisiana is hurting and needs your help! NOLA.com assembled this excellent guide of charities helping out storm victims. We encourage you to help out however you can here: