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Pres. Obama on Isaac: Recovery and Resilience
President Barack Obama landed in The Big Easy (err..Kenner) today, but his true destination was the storm torn St. John the Baptist Parish. For many Louisiana residents, Hurricane Isaac did a lot more than turn off the lights and break the A.C. Residents of St. John the Baptist and Plaquemines Parishes suffered severe damage, and large areas of Louisiana are still submerged. Speaking from LaPlace, Obama lauded the resilience of Louisiana residents and pledged on behalf of the federal government to work towards solving the Gulf Coast’s hurricane problems.
Once Obama acknowledged the “enormous devastation,” in St. John, Plaquemines, other parts of Louisiana, and Mississippi, he thanked local and federal officials for the work they did to preserve people’s lives, and reminded people of the his predecessor’s failures in that department.
“I want to particularly thank FEMA and the state and local authorities. Sometimes in the past, we haven’t seen the kind of coordination that’s necessary in response to these kinds of disasters,” said Obama.
Obama also said that his administration had approved individual assistance to residents who were particularly devastated, ensuring that they will have funds to supplement the damage that insurance cannot cover.
Obama told the national and local media that “some folks literally had to be saved by boat,” applauding local authorities for “getting out in rescue mode quickly.”
Now, we’re in what the president referred to as recovery mode. “Our biggest priority is helping to house people who have been displaced, making sure they’ve got the resources they need to re enroll their kids in school, make sure that they’re able to get to their jobs, make sure they can have the support they need to get restarted.
Obama addressed the larger issue: how to anticipate disasters like Hurricane Isaac. The President said that he’s “pledged to these folks that we’re going to make sure at the federal level that we get on this very quickly.” On a positive note, Obama said “the good news is the Army Corps levees that were built in New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, and some of these other areas worked very well, and they were done expeditiously.”
The Army Corps has already promised to model Hurricane Isaac's wind and water patterns to determine whether water that was pushed away from most of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish were in fact just redirected to the North and West shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
Of course, Obama gave a shout out to the Gulf Coast folks. “One thing you know about folks in Louisiana, they are resilient. People in Mississippi they are resilient. They know what tough times are like, but they know they can bounce back.”
Finally, the President ended with a reminder that disasters cut across the aisle.
“In times like these, nobody’s a Democrat or a Republican. We’re all just Americans looking out for one another,” said Obama.
With the timing just before this week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, it was a reminder of the Obama that burst onto the scene eight years ago as the keynote speaker at the Democratic gathering in Boston, calling for the country to see beyond our differences.
More recent observers may have also been reminded of last week's dust-ups from both sides of the spectrum in Louisiana. Gov. Bobby Jindal called out Obama publicly for not including many parishes in his pre-storm disaster declaration. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, chastized Republican candidate Mitt Romney's ticket as he visited the region, saying the infamous budget plan put forward by GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan would not have provided immeditate money for Isaac flood victims.
Landrieu and Jindal joined the president on his visit, along with U.S Sen. David Vitter, Mayor Mitch, Rep. Steve Scalise, FEMA head Craig Fugate, St. John President Natalie Robottom and more officials.
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