U.S. President Donald Trump toured of the coastal areas of Louisiana and Texas Saturday that were ravaged by Hurricane Laura, leaving them without power and water as cleanup efforts continue in seasonally hot and humid conditions.
"One thing I know about this state, it rebuilds fast," Trump told a group that included Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, congressmen and federal agency officials but no residents.
Fourteen people were killed when the Category 4 storm devastated the area early Thursday, with more than half of them succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning because of the improper use of power generators.
"It's a tremendous number,” the president said, referring to those lost, “but you were thinking it could be, could have been, a lot worse."
Trump arrived at Lake Charles, Louisiana, a city of some 80,000 residents that was hard-hit by Laura. More than 220,000 people in the Lake Charles area are estimated to be without water, according to the Louisiana Department of health.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said water treatment plants “took a beating” and warned there was no timetable for restoring electricity.
Trump then flew by helicopter to nearby Orange, Texas, a city of more than 18,000 people. The area was the worst-hit in the state and its economy is dependent on chemical plants. He was greeted by several hundred supporters and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott said the area is extremely fortunate after Laura turned slightly east, averting an “unsurvivable” storm surge forecasters had predicted.
One day before his trip to survey the damage, Trump issued a disaster declaration for Louisiana, a move that makes federal money available to the five parishes that were in Laura’s direct path.
After the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers applauded nearly 20,000 line workers Friday for joining power restoration efforts in hurricane-damaged areas, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted, “Times of crisis often bring out our best as Americans — and we’re seeing that right now in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.”
“Thank you to all of our emergency responders who are working around the clock to help people get back on their feet,” Biden added.