WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is making his first visit to flood-ravaged southern Louisiana as he attempts to assure the many thousands who have suffered damage to their homes, schools and businesses that his administration has made their recovery a priority.
The Baton Rouge visit Tuesday is a reminder of the political dangers and opportunities that natural disasters can pose. On top of a competent federal response, it’s critical for political leaders to demonstrate compassion and a reassuring sense of engagement.
Citing security concerns, the White House released few details about Obama’s itinerary in advance. But during his afternoon in Louisiana, Obama planned to tour a neighborhood in Baton Rouge Parish damaged by flooding, comfort affected residents, meet with state and local officials, and thank first-responders, the White House said.
Obama took some criticism by opting to complete his family’s two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, before inspecting the flood damage personally and meeting with local residents. An editorial headline in the Baton Rouge Advocate last week read: “Our Views: Vacation or not, a hurting Louisiana needs you now, President Obama.”