President Biden Visits Hurricane-Ravaged Gulf Coast: 'I Promise We're Going to Have Your Backs'
President Joe Biden paid a visit to the Gulf Coast Friday, less than a week after Hurricane Ida made landfall as a category 4 storm in Louisiana Sunday.
Hurricane Ida hit just before 1 p.m. local time on Sunday, Aug. 29 — on the 16th anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
As of Thursday morning, at least 22 people were killed in the storm from Maryland to New York, while Ida has been linked to at least five deaths in Mississippi and Louisiana, per CNN.
Though the exact national death total from the devastation remains unclear at this time, over 916,000 are without power in the Bayou State, according to poweroutage.us. Over 33,000 are also without electricity in nearby Mississippi, while tens of thousands of others in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are also in the dark.
Upon arrival in Louisiana, Biden, 78, was greeted by members of Louisiana's Congressional delegation, including Republicans Steve Scalise, Bill Cassidy, and John Kennedy, as well as Gov. John Bel Edwards and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Biden spoke in a meeting with local leaders before surveying the storm's damage in an aerial tour of the hardest-hit communities.
Thanking the 25,000 linemen from 32 states working to restore power to the area, Biden noted the frustration and said the administration was "working 24/7 with [power] management companies."
Calling the storm damage "incredible," Biden said lawmakers on either side of the aisle understood the urgency of aiding the people of New Orleans and all who were impacted by the storm.
"There's nothing political about this," he said. "It's just simply about saving lives and getting people back up and running. We're in this together, and so we're not going to leave any community behind. Rural, city, coastal, inland. I promise we're going to have your backs 'til this gets done."
The president also took the opportunity to tout his Build Back Better infrastructure plan, which he said would help rebuild structures to be better equipped to withstand damaging weather.
"Things have changed so drastically in terms of the environment, we've already crossed certain thresholds, we can't build back roads, highways, bridges, anything to what it was before, we gotta build back to what it is now what's needed now," Biden said.
"And I know the heads of energy companies understand this really well, we have a significant piece of legislation, both the infrastructure bill and ... a reconciliation bill that call for significant investment in being able to deal with what is about to come."