Time: 7:59 p.m. CEST
President Barack Obama delivers a statement in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on August 23 after his visit to the flooded area in this state, which claimed 13 lives. President Obama visits Louisiana, despite the comments and critics he is doing to late. But, the White House defends the president decision to visit flooded areas on Tuesday. “I guarantee you nobody on this block, none of those first responders, nobody gives a hoot whether you are Democrat or Republican,” Obama said. As the President says, “What they care about is making sure they’re getting the drywall out and the carpet out, and there’s not any mold building, and they get some contractors in here and they start rebuilding as quick as possible.”
Obama offered the prayers of the entire nation for “everybody who lost loved ones. We are heartbroken by the loss of life.” A week after the historic flooding, the president says, Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Has enough money for now to cover the costs that can be absorbed.”
Obama explained the magnitude of the situation by saying that above 100.000 people applied for the federal assistance, and that until August 23, “federal support has reached $127 million.”
“That’s for help like temporary rental assistance, essential home repairs, and flood insurance payments,” Obama said.
In terms of long-term help to Louisiana, Obama said that Congress would need to approve funds for the medium-term and the long-term rebuilding. “Congress should be back in session right after Labor Day. By that time we will probably have a better assessment. And in the meantime, lawyers at FEMA will be examining what statutory flexibility we’ve got,” Obama said.
Federal government already helped the state with different resource and the president declared “20 parishes for a major disaster for severe storms and flooding, a declaration that makes federal funding available to affected people in Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington and West Feliciana,” the white House announced.
In addition to the 20 parishes, Federal Emergency Management Agency is conducting a joint Federal and state damage assessment in Assumption and St. Charles, the White House said. As the White House explained, “this federal help can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help people and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.” While in Martha’s Vineyard, the President has received updates on the situation in Louisiana, including from the Department of Homeland Secretary, Jeh Johnson and the FEMA Administrator.
In the help to the flooded areas, “the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it will speed federal disaster assistance to Louisiana and give support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to severe storms and flooding.” At FEMA’s request, HUD will coordinate the federal government’s Housing Recovery Support Function to give resources and assistance in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of destroyed and damaged housing, and development of new permanent housing, where needed. In support of this mission, HUD has deployed a team of disaster recovery experts who will be ready and staged in Louisiana on Monday, August 22.
The White House announced FEMA activated its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program, at the request of the state of Louisiana, to make participating hotels or motels available for eligible disaster survivors who are unable to return to their homes for an extended period.
This program provides short-term lodging for eligible survivors who are currently residing in a personal vehicle, hotel or motel, shelter, or place of employment