President Biden said Monday the federal government is doing what it can to support search-and-rescue efforts, restore power and cellphone service and clear roads after Hurricane Ida ripped through Louisiana as a Category 4 storm before moving into neighboring states.
“There are roads that are impassable due to debris and downed power lines, and we need people to continue to shelter in place,” Mr. Biden told affected governors in a video conference from the White House. “We’re doing the best we can.”
The president rattled off a list of assets and supplies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including food, water and generators, and said National Guard members are heading to the region from other states.
He said federal agencies will make satellite imagery available if it helps governors with their recovery efforts.
Hurricane Ida dumped massive amounts of rain in New Orleans and other low-lying areas, filling the bottom floors of homes, flooding roads and leaving 1 million people without power.
At least two people were killed in the storm, but that death toll is expected to rise.
Mr. Biden marveled that at one point, the storm forced the Mississippi River’s flow to change direction.
“We’re gonna stand with you and the people of the gulf for as long as it takes for you to recover,” Mr. Biden said alongside White House adviser Cedric Richmond, a former congressman from Louisiana.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said the storm came onshore with “everything that was advertised” in terms of high winds and heavy rains, but the good news was that the levee system held tight.
“It would be a different story altogether had any of those levee systems failed. Having said that, the damage was still catastrophic,” the governor said. “This is going to be a long haul.”
Mr. Edwards said his state is prioritizing hospital capacity and will need support for housing as it recovers.
For now, “we are still in a life-saving mode, doing safe and rescue,” he said.
Mr. Biden reminded the governor that if “there’s anything you need, just call … just holler.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, thanked Mr. Biden for signing emergency declarations ahead of the storm.
He said Ida was moving slowly over his state, meaning its residents might see heavier rains but not as much wind damage as previously thought.