Dartanian Stovall looks at the house that collapsed with him inside during the peak of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 30, 2021.
Michael DeMocker | USA TODAY network via Reuters
WASHINGTON – The federal government is doing everything in its power to help Louisiana and Mississippi rescue residents and recover from Hurricane Ida, President Joe Biden told the governors of those states on Monday.
“We’re here to help you get back on your feet,” said Biden during a virtual briefing at the White House with Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, Republican Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and others.
The hurricane hit land on Sunday as a strong Category 4 storm that supplied electricity to up to 2 million people in Louisiana and Mississippi. By Monday morning, one death had already been attributed to the storm. Edwards told MSNBC that he expected that number to grow significantly.
The massive federal response to the storm reinforces one of the pillars of Biden’s stance on the presidency: his belief that the government is uniquely equipped to mobilize aid for millions of people.
“The people of Louisiana and Mississippi are resilient, but at moments like these we can see the power of government to meet people’s needs and serve people when the government is ready to respond. That’s our job, ”said Biden.
Five thousand National Guardsmen have been deployed across the southeast, Biden said, and more than 25,000 electrical crews and linemen from 30 states are “rolling in to assist”.
To assess the damage to electrical lines, Biden said he directed the Federal Aviation Administration to work with electrical companies to deploy surveillance drones in the affected areas.
Biden also authorized the Defense and Homeland Security departments to provide satellite imagery that could help assess the damage.
To help more people access cellular services, Biden said the Federal Communications Commission will enter into a cooperative framework agreement between cellular operators so that people can use each company’s roaming services.
Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:
Biden was attended the briefing by former Louisiana MP Cedric Richmond, who stepped down from the House of Representatives in January to join the Biden administration as director of the White House Public Relations Office.
The president directed the governors to contact Richmond directly if they needed anything from the White House.
Ida first hit land over Port Fourchon, Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with winds of 250 mph, one of the strongest storms to hit the region since Hurricane Katrina, which hit the area 16 years ago to the day.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell was also on-screen at the White House meeting, as was Cynthia Lee Sheng, President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
Reeves and Edwards both thanked Biden for signing pre-landing federal emergency letters for their states, freeing up federal funds and resources to respond to the emergency.
“We have all the help you will need,” said Biden. “We’ll stand by you and the people of the Gulf while it takes you to recover.”
Officials downgraded Ida to a tropical storm on Monday en route inland, where it was expected to bring heavy rainfall, tornadoes and the potential for severe flooding later this week as it migrates up the Tennessee Valley and into the mid-Atlantic.
Rainfall could be 24 inches across parts of southeast Louisiana to the extreme south of Mississippi.
This was Biden’s second meeting in four days with governors of the storm-hit states. On Friday he met virtually with Edwards, Reeve and GOP Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.