NEW ORLEANS, La. – At the end of a four-day trip filled with campaign events, President Barack Obama put politics aside to visit a Louisiana town hit by Hurricane Isaac and talk with local officials about the recovery effort.
In brief remarks after touring part of the town of LaPlace in St. John the Baptist Parish, the president said he was impressed by the resiliency of the residents.
“There is enormous faith here, enormous strength here you can see it in these families,” he said. “They were just devastated a few days ago and they're already smiling and laughing,” he said.
Local reports say St. John the Baptist Parish experienced up to 18 inches of floodwater from the hurricane, an unprecedented level of flooding for the parish, according to an administration official.
Before his tour of the neighborhood, the president was briefed by local parish officials about the situation in the area and noted that the biggest concern was helping those who had been displaced.
“Obviously, right now we’re still in recovery mode,” he said.
Obama was accompanied by Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who met him at the airport alongside a bipartisan group that included New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, Reps. Cedric Richmond and Jeff Landry and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate.
Thanking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Obama subtly referred to the recovery efforts to mitigate the damage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 under former President George W. Bush, which were widely viewed as a failure.
“In the past we sometimes haven’t seen the kind of coordination needed for these kinds of disasters,” Obama said.
But he also emphasized that this type of natural disaster transcends political labels.
“When disasters like this happen we set aside whatever petty disagreements we might have,” Obama said. “Nobody’s a Democrat or a Republican.”
The president returns to Washington, D.C. on Monday evening. He heads Tuesday to Norfolk, Va. for a campaign event.