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'The nation is here to help,' Biden tells Ida survivors as he heads to storm zone

President tours Louisiana damage from the hurricane, which has claimed more than 60 lives in multiple states.
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden traveled to New Orleans on Friday to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Ida as the storm and its remnants have claimed more than 60 lives across multiple states.

Biden began his trip at St. John Parish's Emergency Operations Center for a briefing on the storm's impact with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, parish presidents and other community leaders. Later, he toured a neighborhood and survey the damage by air.

"Hurricane Ida is another reminder we need to be prepared for the next hurricane," Biden said after touring some of the storm's destruction. "Super storms are going to come and they are going to come more ferociously."

Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden participates in a briefing about the response to damage caused by Hurricane Ida, at the St. John Parish Emergency Operations Center, on Sept. 3, 2021, in LaPlace, La., as Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, left, and White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond listenEvan Vucci / AP

Biden said the federal government is working with the energy companies and the cell phone companies to restore service, sending generators, and providing flexibility for the hours that truckers are allowed to drive to deliver fuel. He said his administration is also putting pressure on insurance companies to pay for people's temporary living costs as they recover from the storm.

Biden also used the visit to sell his plans to spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure, citing ways the plan would build new levees, pumping stations and water infrastructure.

In a speech Thursday at the White House before leaving for Louisiana, Biden said that Edwards had assured him that his visit would not disrupt recovery efforts.

"That’s what I wanted to be sure of," Biden said. "My message to everyone affected is: We’re all in this together. The nation is here to help."

Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden tours a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Ida on Sept. 3, 2021, in LaPlace, La.Evan Vucci / AP

Ida made landfall along the Gulf Coast on Sunday as a Category 4 storm, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States. The 150 mph winds and heavy rainfall left more than a million homes without power, and flattened homes and businesses in the region.

The remnants of Hurricane Ida moved up the East Coast, battering New York, New Jersey and the surrounding area on Wednesday with tornadoes, record rain and flooding that left the area deluged and under states of emergency. More than 40 people in the Northeast died from the storm.

While power was restored for some parts of New Orleans on Wednesday, Biden arrives in Louisiana as many people are still without water, power and air conditioning, creating an unsafe condition in the September heat. Experts have warned that the aftermath of hurricanes can be the most deadly.

Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden greets a resident as he tours a neighborhood impacted by Hurricane Ida on Sept. 3, 2021, in LaPlace, La.Evan Vucci / AP

Biden has pointed to the increase in climate events and their growing devastation on communities as evidence of the need to pass his infrastructure proposal, a message he is likely to echo during his visit.

Biden said Thursday that when Congress returns from recess, he would "press for their action" on his infrastructure agenda that would make critical infrastructure, such as electric grids and draining systems, "more resilient to these superstorms and wildfires and floods that are going to happen with increasing frequency and ferocity."

"We’re reminded that this isn’t about politics," Biden said. "Hurricane Ida didn’t care if you were a Democrat or Republican, rural or urban. It's destruction is everywhere."