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Obama to Visit Flood-Devastated Louisiana, Where Donations Barely Trickle In

Obama heads to Louisiana in wake of historic flooding 1:33

President Obama will visit flood-ravaged Louisiana on Tuesday afternoon, where donations are barely trickling in, the American Red Cross says.

The flooding — which has killed 13 people and displaced tens of thousands of others — is the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, according to the aid organization. But pledges to help aren't keeping pace.

"The Red Cross has received approximately $7.8 million in donations and pledges designated to support Louisiana — not nearly enough to cover our costs of at least an estimated $30 million. The needs of the people of Louisiana are great, and we ask the public to please donate as generously as they can," the Red Cross said in a statement Monday.

More than 106,000 people have registered for federal disaster aid, officials said Monday, a week after the catastrophic floods left Baton Rouge and much of the rest of the southern part of the state waterlogged. Louisiana says it has already distributed $20 million.

Image: Sheryl Howard walks through her flood damaged frontyard at the South Point subdivision in Denham Springs
Sheryl Howard walks through her flood damaged frontyard at the South Point subdivision in Denham Springs, Louisiana, U.S., August 22, 2016. JONATHAN BACHMAN / Reuters

Also Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced an extension of 120 days for renewing flood insurance policies to give policy holders "one less thing to worry about" as they repair their homes.

Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson visited Louisiana last week, as did Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also said she planned to visit.

Related: Homeland Security Chief Visits Flood-Ravaged Louisiana

Obama, meanwhile, was in Martha's Vineyard, and faced a barrage of criticism for continuing his vacation as Louisiana residents languished.

He signed a federal disaster declaration over a week ago, but many felt that wasn't enough.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday pushed back at critics, saying, "there is all too common temptation to focus on politics and optics."

Related: Obama More Concerned With Louisiana Response Than Optics: White House

"Survivors of flooding aren't well served by political discussion," Earnest said. They're "well served by coordinated government response."

The Baton Rouge Advocate slammed Obama last week in a harsh op-ed that compared him to the botched Hurricane Katrina government response: "It evoked the precedent of the passive federal response to the state's agony in 2005, a chapter of history no one should ever repeat."

Former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, told MSNBC that the current situation in Louisiana shouldn't simply become a campaign issue for the presidential election.

"This campaign has to find a higher plain, or we're going to go crazy," she said Tuesday. "Policy and how the government should structure itself, how it should respond to disasters like this ... That's really what we need to be talking about."