LOUISIANA (BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump on Saturday (Aug 29) surveyed damage in southwest Louisiana from Hurricane Laura, which slammed into the Gulf Coast as a Category Four storm earlier this week.
Trump met with first responders, members of the National Guard, city officials and members of Congress in Lake Charles. With his entourage he walked - maskless - through a neighbourhood littered with damaged houses, downed trees and toppled power lines. He'll travel later to nearby Orange, Texas.
"I'm here to support the great people of Louisiana," Trump said in remarks at the Lake Charles Fire Department. "This was a tremendously powerful storm."
The president said that Louisiana had "been through a lot" between the massive hurricane and its Covid-19 outbreak. "You've done a great job," he told John Bel Edwards, the state's Democratic governor.
Trump noted that many residents are without power and therefore also without air conditioning, with temperatures and humidity climbing.
"When people get used to air conditioning and all of a sudden they don't have it, that's a very traumatic situation," he said.
Among those traveling with Trump from Washington were Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Pete Gaynor, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The president said Gaynor had done "a hell of a job."
FEMA so far has delivered some 2.6 million liters of water and 1.4 million meals to residents displaced by the storm, Trump said.
Louisiana lawmakers accompanying Trump included Senator John Kennedy and Representatives Clay Higgins, Steve Scalise and Garret Graves, all Republicans.
Trump's expected to be greeted in Texas by Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, as well as Senator Ted Cruz and Representatives Brian Babin and Randy Weber.
Laura made landfall on Thursday morning packing winds of some 150 miles per hour, some of the strongest to hit the region in more than a century.
The death toll in Louisiana and Texas is at least 14, the Associated Press reported. Hundreds of thousands of residents are still without water and power.
The storm's track shifted east at the last moment to strike the region visited by Trump, along the border between the two states, while sparing nearby oil refineries. A chemical fire that broke out in Lake Charles at a KIK Custom Products-owned BioLab facility is now under control.
Trump is making the trip a day after holding a rally in New Hampshire, a potential swing state in November's election, and as he criticizes Democrat Joe Biden for not appearing more frequently in public.
In a statement on Hurricane Laura on Saturday, Biden said "we will come back and we will be there to help you build back better."