Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, are in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and toured the flood damage on the drive from the airport Friday.
The Republican presidential ticket traveled down miles of roads where the receding flood waters are now showing piles and mounds that were residents’ walls, carpets and possessions.
After they toured the flood damage, they went to Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, where the GOP ticket met with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization.
Trump and Pence met volunteers and were cheered by the crowd in front of Samaritan’s Purse Mobile Kitchen.
The mammoth flooding in the area — 6.9 trillion gallons of rain pummeled Louisiana between August 8 and 14 — damaged more than 40,000 homes and killed at least 13 people. More than 70,000 people had registered for individual assistance since the federal disaster was declared, and more than 9,000 had filed flood insurance claims, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office released a statement before the arrival that said Trump had not reached out to inform them of his visit.
“We welcome (Trump) to (Louisiana), but not for a photo-op. Instead, we hope he’ll consider volunteering or making a sizeable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of this storm.”
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton called Edwards to get a briefing on the damage, and posted shortly afterward on Facebook about their call.
“My heart breaks for Louisiana, and right now, the relief effort can’t afford any distractions. The very best way this team can help is to make sure Louisianans have the resources they need,” she wrote in the post. “These are our friends, our family members, our community — and they’re counting on us to reach out with open arms right now.”
President Barack Obama has been called on by Republicans and some in Louisiana to cut short his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to visit the city. As of Thursday, there were no announced plans for the President to arrive nor was Obama planning to address the flooding in an in-person statement.
During Trump’s visit, Perkins pointed out that Obama was not present but Trump was.
“A disaster this big begs for the personal presence of the President at ground zero,” read an editorial published in The Advocate on Thursday calling on Obama to cut short his Martha’s Vineyard vacatoin. “In coming here, the President can decisively demonstrate that Louisiana’s recovery is a priority for his administration — and the United States of America.”