Obama assures hurricane hit Louisiana of federal help

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : As Indian-American governor Bobby Jindal’s hurricane stricken state of Louisiana grappled with the devastation, President Barack Obama surveyed a hard-hit area on the eve of the Democratic national convention in North Carolina.

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Surveying the devastation wrought by hurricane Issac in St. John the Baptist Parish, about 30 miles west of New Orleans, the state’s largest city, with Jindal Monday, Obama reassured victims of federal recovery aid and hailed the first responders who ensured no lives were lost.

Some 105,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana Monday, remained without electricity, down from a peak of 900,000, six days after Hurricane Isaac struck the state, according to the Public Service Commission.

As of Monday morning, 2,739 displaced residents remained in shelters across the state – most of them in the area visited by Obama, a spokesperson with Jindal’s Office said. That’s down from more than 7,000 at the height of the storm.

Obama’s motorcade passed streets lined with mounds of debris, uprooted trees, ruined furniture and appliances piled in yards and along the curb, according to ABC News. The air smelled of trash and sewage as it baked in the 38-degree Celsius heat.

He later went house to house in the Ridgewood neighbourhood of La Place, shaking hands with residents and hearing their stories.

“Right now we’re still in recovery mode. And that means that our biggest priority is helping to house people who have been displaced,” Obama was quoted as saying after the tour.

Obama, who flew to New Orleans after attending a Labour Day campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, ahead of the party convention that would rename him the Democratic nomonee, denied political motivations behind his trip.

“When disasters like this happen, we set aside whatever petty disagreements we may have,” Obama said. “Nobody’s a Democrat or Republican. We’re all just Americans looking out for one another.”

Obama’s Republican challenger Mitt Romney visited the state Friday a day after the Republican national convention in Tampa, Florida, that officially anointed him the party’s presidential nominee.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])