The Great Flood of 2016 has devastated 40,000 homes across the state of Louisiana. Sadly, 13 people have lost their lives in this historic storm, which produced up to 31 inches of rainfall in some areas over the course of four days. This is more rainfall than the City of Los Angeles experiences in four years. It was a storm that was so intense that it only happens once every one thousand years.
Emergency officials claim that the Great Flood of 2016 is the worst natural disaster in this country since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. After that storm, President Obama famously met with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to show support for the region.
This time it is a much different scenario. Despite the magnitude of the disaster, President Obama has not visited the region. In fact, he has not even stopped his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard or playing golf. The images of our golf obsessed President enjoying his favorite pastime while his fellow citizens are in such pain is quite troubling to say the least.
Over the course of almost two terms, Obama has played more than 300 rounds of golf. This compares to President George W. Bush who played only two dozen rounds of golf during his two terms in office. In 2005, Bush was roundly criticized for his tardy response to the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. No one can forget the images of Bush looking out of the window of Air Force One at the devastation below. However, at least he flew over the region and eventually visited the area multiple times before the end of his presidency. In contrast, Obama has not even ended his expensive vacation and his golfing with Hollywood stars.
The media crucified Bush for his delayed response in 2005, but are giving Obama a pass this year. Even Democrat Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards had to cover for Obama maintaining in an interview on MSNBC that he did not want a presidential visit at this time. He claimed it would divert resources that were needed for the recovery. However, back in 2005, during an even worse disaster, no one came to Bush’s defense. He was pilloried mercilessly for not immediately visiting the New Orleans area.
An Obama visit would have been helpful because it would have highlighted the needs of the region. This area has suffered a tremendous blow considering that so many of the victims did not have flood insurance as their houses had never flooded before. Unlike so many of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the victims of this disaster live in areas that are above sea level and are not considered flood zones.
At least Donald Trump and Mike Pence visited Louisiana, showing leadership and concern and giving the thousands of victims some much-needed attention. Even with the incredible magnitude of the disaster the national media has moved on from the Louisiana flood and the story is not generating headlines any longer. With Trump and his running mate in the state, it guarantees that the plight of the many victims of this horrible natural disaster will receive more media coverage.
Trump’s visit will also spur more donations to the agencies that are providing vital resources to the many thousands of victims who need help. By expressing his sympathy and personal concern, he is also giving a boost to people who have lost everything and are in tremendous pain. He is also acting presidential, a trait that has been in short supply for the past eight years.
While Trump was on the ground in Louisiana, Hillary Clinton was literally phoning it in, calling the Governor and tweeting a link for donations. She will visit the state next week, as will President Obama, finally. Clearly, Trump shamed both of them into scheduling a trip to Louisiana. It is quite sad that Obama’s first reaction was not to personally visit the region and see the damage in person, but to continue his golfing vacation.
The victims of this horrific storm deserved the full attention of their President, instead they received visits from his underlings and saw images of Barack Obama riding around in a golf cart while their homes were literally under water. This whole episode has brought back painful memories of Obama’s pitifully slow response to the BP oil spill disaster in 2010.
Some Louisiana residents speculate that the reason for the President’s negligence is that this is a state that votes Republican. It is highly doubtful that a similar catastrophe in a “Blue State” would have been handled by the President in the same way.
Who knows the real motivation for his inattention to Louisiana, but at least we do know some good news, Obama leaves office in five months.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].