President BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE on Friday toured some of the devastation levied by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, where hundreds of thousands of residents are still without power days after the storm passed through.
"Folks, I know you’re hurting. I know you’re hurting. Folks in Lake Charles who I visited earlier this year are still hurting from Hurricane Laura. I want you to know, we’re going to be here for you," Biden said, speaking in front of an uprooted tree in LaPlace, La.
Biden highlighted the push for energy companies to get power back on for residents, and he reiterated his call for private insurance companies to assist those who voluntarily evacuated their homes ahead of the storm.
The president toured storm damage and received a briefing on the state of affairs on the ground.
Biden also used the opportunity to push for passage of his economic plan, which would include billions of dollars for infrastructure projects. He argued that major cities like New Orleans and parts of Louisiana battered by major storms need new highways, roads and bridges to be built with the challenges posed by climate change in mind so that they're more resilient in the face of natural disasters.
"This isn’t about being a Democrat or a Republican. We’re Americans. And we’ll get through this together," Biden said. "We’ve just got to remember we not only have to build back, we have to build back better than it was before so that when another superstorm hits there’s not the damage done."
The president, as he has when he has toured damage from other disasters this year, emphasized the need to set aside partisan differences.
"My message today is ... just simply about saving lives and getting people back up and running. And we're in this together," Biden said during a briefing on the storm damage at St. John the Baptist Parish emergency operations center.
Biden met throughout the day in Louisiana with Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, Reps. Troy Carter (D-La.) and Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesLawmakers lay out arguments for boosting clean energy through infrastructure GOP seeks to keep spotlight on Afghanistan as Dems advance Biden's .5T spending plan Biden to travel to New Jersey and New York, survey Ida damage MORE (R-La.), Entergy CEO Leo Denault, hospital executives and local parish leaders.
Biden visited Louisiana days after Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The powerful storm flooded swaths of the state and damaged buildings with high winds. Millions of residents were left without power for days, and many are still waiting for the lights, and air conditioning, to come back on nearly a week later.
At least 12 people were killed in Louisiana as a result of the storm, according to reports, and dozens more died in subsequent flooding in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as Ida's remnants approached the East Coast.
The federal government has deployed a host of resources to the Gulf Coast to assist with recovery efforts, which Biden detailed in a speech Thursday. Senior White House 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 has been coordinating operations from Washington.
Biden approved emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi before the storms hit, and FEMA has deployed food, water and generators to the region.
White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiRegional powers rally behind Taliban's request for humanitarian aid Cawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Biden, Democrats risk everything unless they follow the Clinton pivot (they won't) MORE told reporters Thursday that 50,000 households in Louisiana have received a one-time $500 payment to support their needs and that FEMA has sent out $77 million in disaster aid to households in the state.
Biden on Thursday highlighted efforts to make available surveillance drones and satellite imagery to help officials map damage and turn power back on more quickly.
Additionally, Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden administration breaks down climate finance roadmap Regulators can no longer rubber-stamp expansion of the oil and gas industry Obama to attend Glasgow climate summit MORE released 1.5 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to alleviate challenges moving oil to areas affected by the storm.