President Biden on Thursday pledged the resources of multiple government agencies to assist victims of Hurricane Ida, which knocked out power and caused billions of dollars in damage along the Gulf Coast.
“My to message to everyone affected is we’re all in this together. The nation is here to help,” Mr. Biden said at the White House.
Mr. Biden outlined a federal response that included sending in power generators and reconnaissance drones. He plans to survey the damage himself on Friday when he visits Louisiana.
Hurricane Ida is the fifth most powerful storm to strike the U.S. with maximum winds of 150 miles per hour. More than a million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi were out of power Thursday morning as high winds knocked out power grids.
At least six deaths so far in the gulf coast region have been attributed to Ida, but at 20 more death were reported after the Category 4 hurricane’s remnants tore through the northeast.
Remnants of the storm lashed the mid-Atlantic region on Wednesday, spawning flooding in New York City and across the Northeast and tornadoes in Maryland and New Jersey.
Mr. Biden said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed more than 250 generators to the Gulf Coast states and is working to provide more to hospitals and other critical care facilities.
For the first time, the federal government activated the use of surveillance drones to assess the storm’s damage to energy infrastructure. In addition, the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security have made available to local authorities satellite images available to survey the extent of Ida’s damage.
The Federal Communications Commission will also work with cellular providers to allow customers whose cell service is down to temporarily use competitors’ networks.
Mr. Biden ordered the Department of Health and Human and Services to open a 250-bed medical shelter in New Orleans and activate five medical assistance teams throughout the state. Roughly 50 Red Cross shelters have also opened up across the impacted states.
“We will be working around the clock until the critical needs of the region are fully met and we will meet them,” Mr. Biden said.
The president also addressed reports that insurance companies could deny assistance to hurricane victims unless the homeowner was under a mandatory evacuation order.
He called on insurance companies not to “hide behind fine print and technicality,” urging them to do the right thing.
Mr. Biden on Friday will meet with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and local officials to tour the damage. The president said Mr. Edwards, a Democrat, assured him that the visit would not disrupt recovery efforts.
Mr. Edwards on Wednesday said Mr. Biden needed to take a tour so he would have a better understanding of the situation.
“There’s nothing quite like visiting in person,” he told reporters. “When you see it for yourself, it is just so much more compelling.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, Louisiana Republican, issued a statement thanking Mr. Biden for going to Louisiana to help “understand the magnitude of the situation.”