(NEW ORLEANS) — President Joe Biden traveled to New Orleans Friday to survey damage caused by Hurricane Ida, meet with local leaders and demonstrate the federal response to the storm that made landfall in Louisiana before devastating much of the Northeast United States.
“We came because we want to hear directly from you all, what specific problems you’ve been dealing with,” Biden told local officials in hard-hit LaPlace, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans
In LaPlace, local officials spoke with the president about the destruction in the region and the long-term impact the storm would have in the area.
Biden told the officials — including Gov. John Bel Edwards, the CEOs of local hospitals and the energy company Entergy, members of Congress and local parish presidents — that he thought it was important to rebuild damaged infrastructure in a more resilient manner, whether it meant placing power lines underground or making roofs stronger.
“This storm has been incredible, not only here but all the way up the East Coast,” Biden said.
Connecting the recent devastation to the impact of climate change, Biden pitched the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that recently passed the Senate with bipartisan support, as well as a $3.5 trillion social spending bill backed by Democrats, saying the latter “calls for significant investment in being able to deal with what is about to come.”
“Things are changing so drastically in terms of the environment,” the president said. “We’ve already crossed certain thresholds. We can’t build back a road, a highway, a bridge or anything to what it was before. I mean, you got to build back to what it is now, what’s needed now.”
Air Force One touched down in New Orleans early Friday afternoon, where the president was greeted by federal, state and local officials from Louisiana: Edwards, U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng.
Biden then took a helicopter over storm-damaged homes to LaPlace, where in addition to the briefing from local leaders, he planned to tour a neighborhood and make remarks.
He was then scheduled to take an aerial tour of particularly battered communities in the area, including Lafitte, Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and Lafourche Parish, according to the White House.
Later, he was scheduled to travel to meet with local leaders in Galliano, La., south of New Orleans.
The White House has sought to project a strong federal response to the storm as the president suffers from public disapproval of his handling of another recent crisis, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
During remarks Thursday, Biden told those in the Gulf region that “we’re all in this together.”
“The nation is here to help,” he said.
Ida and its remnants have left more than at least 61 people dead in eight states, including at least 48 in the Northeast.
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