Biden speaks to Louisiana governor after 'catastrophic' Ida damage

President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege The No Surprises Act:  a bill long overdue MORE on Monday met with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell to discuss recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

The meeting, which was virtual, also included the mayors of Jackson and Baton Rouge, and other local leaders. 

“I know you’re busy as the devil. I know you’ve got a lot to manage in your states,” Biden said from the White House. “We know Hurricane Ida had the potential to cause massive, massive damage and that’s exactly what we saw.”

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One person has been confirmed dead from the hurricane, and Biden acknowledged “that number is likely to grow.” A million people in Louisiana are without power, there is widespread flooding and impassable roads, and the American Red Cross set up 50 shelters for those who lost their homes.

More than 5,000 National Guard service members have been activated to support search, rescue and recovery, millions of meals and liters of water have been delivered from FEMA, and 200 generators deployed.

The Federal Aviation Administration is working with Louisiana and Mississippi electric companies to authorize use of surveillance drones and the Federal Communications Commission is working with cellular providers to initiate an agreement to allow customers with one provider to go to another if that provider is down. 

White House senior adviser Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondBiden to meet with business leaders amid debt ceiling pressure campaign on GOP Bottom line The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats to scale back agenda MORE, a former congressman from Louisiana, was tapped to be a point person for local leaders. Biden called him a “boy who knows Louisiana very, very well and New Orleans.” 

“While FEMA is our lead for on the ground response, if there’s something you need, needs my attention, Cedric is your direct line … whatever you need, go to Cedric we’ll get you what you need if we can,” the president said.

Edwards told the president that the damage in Louisiana has been “catastrophic.”

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“Hurricane Ida came on shore with everything that was advertised, the surge, the rain, the wind,” he said. “We are still in a lifesaving mode here doing search and rescue.”

Reeves said the storm has been in Mississippi for 8 to 10 hours and he expects the state to be in the eye of the storm for another 18 to 22 more hours. 

“We know that our greatest threats here in Mississippi are with respect to rising water and power outages,” he said.

Biden has received receives regular briefings from his homeland security team on the impacts of Hurricane Ida and was briefed on the ongoing preparations the hurricane on Saturday by Criswell virtually from the FEMA National Response Coordination Center.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasTop officials turn over Twitter accounts to 'share the mic' with Black cybersecurity experts Federal officers detail abuse described by asylum seekers Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation MORE and Criswell will travel to Baton Rouge, La., on Tuesday and meet with Edwards. Criswell will then travel to Jackson, Miss., and meet with Reeves on Wednesday.

The hurricane made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane and knocked the power out for all of New Orleans by Sunday evening.