President Biden on Friday toured damage from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana as the state struggles to restore power and rebuild after the Category 4 storm.
Biden received a briefing on recovery efforts and inspected suburban wreckage after Air Force One landed in New Orleans.
The tarmac welcome party included Democratic Gov. John Edwards and Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, a Democrat, also welcomed Biden.
Biden walked to the Marine One helicopter with a cheat-sheet of officials’ names and photos sticking out of his pants pocket. He also appeared to have a script in his pocket.
The cheat sheet included the names and photos of Cantrell and Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng.
At the briefing with officials on recovery progress, Biden said “there’s a heck of a lot more work to do and that’s why we’re here today.”
“My message today is, I think what we’re all seeing — and I’m getting the same response from my Republican friends here that are in the Congress — is there’s nothing political about this. This is simply about saving lives, getting people back up and running. And we’re in this together,” he said.
“I promise we’re gonna have your back until this thing gets done. And so, I’m mainly here to listen to see what’s on your mind.”
Biden later gave handshakes and hugs while touring hurricane damage including uprooted trees and downed power lines in LaPlace, La., west of New Orleans — and used the destruction to press Congress to approve pending infrastructure bills.
“I walk through the backyards here — so many telephone lines are down, so many telephone poles are down, so many of the — of the way in which we transmit energy is lost because of the old wooden telephone pole,” Biden said.
“We know for a fact if they’re underground they are secure. It costs more money. We’ve got to not just build back to what it was with the same old poles up. We got to build back better. We got to build back more resiliently.”
Biden also called on home insurance companies to fully cover the costs of temporary housing in hotels.
The storm came ashore Sunday in Louisiana, but killed more people in the New York area on Wednesday when its remnants triggered flash flooding, drowning at least 13 people in New York City and killing at least 25 in New Jersey.
Biden will spend the weekend at his home in Wilmington, Del. He has not yet announced plans to tour flood damage in the New York area.