Obama briefs Gulf State governors on Hurricane Isaac

The Category 1 hurricane is battering the Gulf Coast with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

President Obama spoke with the governors of three Gulf states on Wednesday as Hurricane Isaac pounded the coast.

The White House said the president briefed Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) on a conference call in which he opened by acknowledging that Wednesday was the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

{mosads}Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA) Craig Fugate and National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb then updated the state officials on “the storm’s impacts, as well as on the resources and steps FEMA has taken to support their teams as they respond to the slow-moving storm,” according to a statement from the White House.

The Category 1 hurricane is battering the Gulf Coast with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. More than half a million people in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are currently without power as the center of the storm passed through New Orleans and Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

“The president made clear that the Federal government was prepared, and he had directed Administrator Fugate to continue to provide all necessary support and available resources,” the White House said. “The president heard from the governors and mayor about the current conditions on the ground and the steps their teams are taking to respond. The president asked the governors to continue to identify any additional needs if they arise as the effects of Isaac and the response efforts continue.”

The White House did not address criticism from Jindal, who has been openly blasting the competence of the federal government over Twitter and who on Monday sent a letter to Obama saying that not enough was being done to help his state cover the expenses it’s taking on in preparation for the storm.

The president on Monday declared a state of emergency for Louisiana. The action by Obama makes federal funding to the state available immediately, but Jindal said it “only provides for direct federal assistance” and doesn’t “provide for reimbursement of expenses that the state is taking to prepare for the storm.”

Jindal, once considered a potential GOP vice presidential candidate and a fierce critic of Obama, announced this week that he would not be attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., where he was expected to speak, so that he could be on the ground in Louisiana to deal with the storm.

Some have speculated that his criticism over Obama’s handling of the hurricane is politically motivated, as the Times-Picayune pointed out that the assistance Obama offered is the same that was offered by then-President George W. Bush during Hurricane Gustav in 2008, which Jindal did not take issue with at the time.

In addition, Louisiana’s Republican Sen. David Vitter told the Los Angeles Times this week that FEMA has “been a lot more proactively engaged ahead of the event than ever before.”

The Obama campaign has kept the president’s campaign schedule this week, with a stop Wednesday in Virginia, but said the president would be closely monitoring the situation in the Gulf.

Tags David Vitter

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