BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 19 (UPI) — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence visited flood-ravaged Louisiana on Friday, comforting homeowners with devastating losses, while criticizing President Barack Obama for continuing to vacation with family instead of visiting the region himself.
Trump met with individual homeowners and a group of volunteers at a church outside Baton Rouge where days of torrential rain caused area rivers to overflow their banks, sending walls of water crashing into residential neighborhoods in towns across the central portion of the state.
“The president says he doesn’t want to come, he is trying to get out of a golf game,” Trump told volunteers at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church.
Speaking at a rally Thursday night, Trump said he was praying for those affected by the floods.
“Our prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones, and we send them our deepest condolences,” Trump said. “Though words cannot express the sadness one feels at times like this, I hope everyone in Louisiana knows that our country is praying for them and standing with them to help them in these difficult hours.”
The White House responded to the criticism Friday, saying Obama has received updates on the recovery efforts multiple times per day while vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, toured the area on Thursday.
Louisiana Gov. Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said he encouraged Obama not to visit yet because a presidential tour could divert resources needed to focus on the recovery.
Edwards said he was not given advance notice of Trump’s trip Friday.
“Gov. Edwards wasn’t informed of the Trump campaign’s visit to the state or the schedule,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. “We welcome them to Louisiana, but not for a photo-op. Instead we hope they’ll consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of this storm.”