Kickstarting Recovery: What Matters Most in Louisiana

Former Sen. Mary Landrieu, (D-LA), who served in the Senate during Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in Louisiana in 2005, discussed the recent flooding in the southern part of the state and efforts to kick start the recovery process.

Landrieu viewed reports that FEMA was already on the ground in Louisiana working with flood victims as reassuring for concerned residents of the state.

“That is exactly what people want to hear: what the federal government can do, what the state and local governments can do. They recognize they’ve got to do for themselves as well. And of course non-profits and churches and charities will step up. But it’s a real partnership between the individual, their community and the government to get this fixed and done and to get people back in their homes,” Landrieu told the FOX Buisness Network’s Sandra Smith.

Landrieu then responded to criticisms of a delayed decision by President Obama to visit the flood zone in Louisiana days after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump surveyed the damage.

“Well, first of all, the flooding wasn’t a one-day event, the waters actually just went down a day or two ago. The flooding happened all last week – I know because I was there for part of it. And so, you don’t want to have a presidential visit for sure in the middle of water rising and the rescue operation. So, I think Gov. Edwards was right to reach out and ask the president to come. This is a good time with the water going down, you can access a lot of areas.”

According to Landrieu, Trump’s visit was appreciated for bringing attention to the damage and recovery process.

“I thank Donald Trump for coming and anything that can bring attention to our state. But you need to do more than come, he made a contribution which was wonderful. And most importantly, people want to hear from him, from the president and from Secretary Clinton, what they can do to make the situation even better.”

Landrieu also weighed in on Hillary Clinton’s statement explaining her decision to delay her visit to the flood zone so her campaign would not be a distraction from recovery efforts and whether it is a mistake.

“No, I think the timing is very important and I’m sure she’ll come. I mean she was a real leader in the rebuilding [after] Superstorm Sandy; I know because I served with her in the Senate.” Landrieu continued, “But most importantly it’s what she does as president – can we improve our flood insurance program, can we get money on the ground sooner, can we work better with non-profits?”

Then Landrieu reacted to sentiment that delaying Clinton’s trip would be less effective because time is of the essence to keep attention on the damage and potentially lead to an increase in much needed funding and donations.

“Well, it’s not going to be a month and it shouldn’t be, but as you know if you’re from Louisiana, these recovery efforts last decades. I mean, we hope this doesn’t last decades, we’re still recovering from Katrina and that was over 10 years ago.  Now hopefully this will be quicker, it’s terrible but it’s not the same scale as Katrina, but yes, absolutely. Again, the most important thing is to get FEMA money to people, get help for them and to organize strategically.”