U.S. President Joe Biden toured neighborhoods in hurricane-hit Louisiana on Friday (September 3) and promised residents that authorities are doing all they can to restore power after widespread outages.
The fifth most powerful hurricane to strike the United States came ashore in southern Louisiana on Sunday (August 29), knocking out power for more than a million customers and water for another 600,000 people, creating miserable conditions for the afflicted, who were also enduring suffocating heat and humidity.
Biden made the comments while visiting LaPlace, a small community about 35 miles west of New Orleans that was devastated by flooding, downed trees and other storm damage.
“I know y’all are frustrated about how long it takes to restore power,” Biden told residents.
“We’re working 24/7 with the energy companies who we met with the heads of today, and we’re deploying even more federal resources, including hundreds of generators. And there’s more to come to restore power as fast as we possibly can,” he said.
Earlier Biden met Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and local officials about the hurricane, which is providing the president with a tough test just after the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
Hurricane Ida struck the Gulf coast and carved a northern path through the eastern United States, culminating on Wednesday in torrential rains and widespread flooding in New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas. At least nine deaths were reported in Louisiana, with at least another 46 killed in the Northeast.
At Biden’s direction, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Thursday authorized an exchange of 1.5 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to Exxon Mobil to relieve fuel disruptions in the wake of the hurricane.
Several refineries remained cut off from crude and products supplies from the south via ship and barge after portions of the Mississippi River were closed by several sunken vessels.
He was scheduled to take an aerial tour of hard-hit communities, including Laffite, Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and Lafourche Parish, before meeting with local leaders in Galliano, Louisiana, the White House said.
(Production: Ashraf Fahim)