SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 May 2024, Thursday |

US President Joe Biden visits hurricane-hit Louisiana

US President Joe Biden visited Louisiana on Friday to inspect the destruction wrought by Hurricane Ida, the huge storm that devastated the southern portion of the state and left a million people without power.

Biden, in rolled up shirtsleeves and boots, was welcomed at the airport by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who said Thursday that there’s no substitute “for actually being on the ground, speaking with the local officials and seeing with your own eyes the utter devastation that the state of Louisiana has sustained because of Hurricane Ida.”

Hurricane Ida struck the Gulf Coast last weekend and carved a northern path through the eastern United States, culminating in torrential rains and widespread flooding in New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas on Wednesday.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Friday said the state had confirmed an additional two deaths overnight, bringing its total to 25. He said at least six people were still missing, and the death toll would likely climb higher.

The fifth most powerful hurricane to strike the United States came ashore in southern Louisiana on Sunday, knocking out power for more than a million customers and water for another 600,000 people, creating miserable conditions for the afflicted, who were also enduring suffocating heat and humidity.

At least nine deaths were reported in Louisiana, with at least another 46 killed in the Northeast, the Reuters news agency reported.

“My message to everyone affected is: ‘We’re all in this together. The nation is here to help,’” Biden said on Thursday.

Biden will tour a neighbourhood in LaPlace, a small community about 56 kilometres (35 miles) west of New Orleans that was devastated by flooding, downed trees and other storm damage, and deliver remarks about his administration’s response.

He will take an aerial tour of hard-hit communities, including Laffite, Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and Lafourche Parish, before meeting with local leaders in Galliano, Louisiana, the White House said.

Officials who have flown over the storm damage reported astounding scenes of small towns turned into piles of matchsticks and large vessels hurled about by the wind.

Biden has also urged private insurance companies to pay homeowners who left in advance of the storm but not necessarily under a mandatory evacuation order.