Amid criticism, Obama arrives in Louisiana to tour flood-hit areas

BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 23 (UPI) — President Barack Obama arrived in Louisiana on Tuesday to tour flood-damaged areas, a move some critics say is a little late.

The president traveled to Baton Rouge after completing his annual two-week family vacation at Martha’s Vineyard on Monday. His visit follows a similar trip last week from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“It is good to have them here, whether it’s Trump, Obama or Clinton coming, just so people realize what’s going on here,” Patrick Mulhearn, director of Louisiana’s Celtic Media Centre, a film and TV studio that provided refuge for flood victims, said. “Nobody was prepared for something like this. It’s going to take the full force of the federal government to get us back on our feet.”

Though Obama didn’t visit Louisiana immediately after flooding began earlier this month, he did dispatch members of his administration — including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson — to the region.

Still, that wasn’t enough to stem criticism from some, including Trump, who intimated that vacation was more important to the president than the flood victims.

While in Lousiiana, Obama will meet with Gov. John Bel Edwards, who defended the president’s absence before the weekend.

“I want you to know that within hours the president granted a disaster declaration and called me to discuss it,” Edwards said Friday. “I can’t complain about the assistance from the federal government. It has been superb.”

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Edwards said the White House called him to ask when Obama should visit the flooded region and Edwards said he asked the president to wait.

“I asked them to let us get out of the response mode where we were still conducting searches of houses and we were still making rescues,” Edwards said on State of the Union. “I didn’t want to divert these police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers and other essential resources and assets to providing security for the president while they were need in this region to undergo those — or to undertake those response activities.”

Obama was scheduled to meet with other government officials and flood victims before returning to Washington.

Severe rains caused the flash flooding earlier this month, which led to the deaths of 13 people and left many others homeless.

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