WASHINGTON (AP) - President Joe Biden will visit Louisiana later this week to survey the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and speak with local and state leaders, the White House said Wednesday.
Ida was the fifth most powerful storm to strike the U.S. when it hit Louisiana on Sunday with maximum winds of 150 mph (240 kph), likely causing tens of billions of dollars in flood, wind and other damage, including to the electrical grid.
More than 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power after Ida toppled a major transmission tower and knocked out thousands of miles of lines and hundreds of substations. New Orleans was plunged into total darkness at one point; power began returning to the city on Wednesday.
The White House says Biden has been getting regular updates on the storm and its aftermath. He has held several conference calls with governors and local officials to discuss preparations and needs after the storm, and has received briefings from FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
FEMA had sent tons of supplies, including generators, tarps and other materials into the region ahead of the storm, and federal response teams are working on search and rescue.
Biden's trip Friday to the Gulf region will cap a difficult stretch for the president, who oversaw the chaotic exit of the U.S. military from Afghanistan after a 20-year engagement. That included the deaths of 13 U.S. servicemembers helping evacuate more than 120,000 Americans, Afghan allies and others fleeing life under Taliban rule.
As Ida bore down on the Gulf Coast on Sunday, Biden was at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the return of the remains of the 13 U.S. servicemen and women who were killed last week in suicide bombing at Afghanistan's airport in Kabul, where the evacuations were taking place.