Biden Plans Friday Trip to Hurricane-Ravaged Louisiana as Thousands Remain Without Power

President Joe Biden will travel to Louisiana on Friday to survey damage in New Orleans and other areas devastated by Hurricane Ida, as thousands of people remain displaced from their homes and without electricity.

"We are not going to go to any part of the state, or visit any community, where we would take away from relief efforts," Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday, adding that the trip is being "planned in close coordination with leaders on the ground."

The news comes as state and local officials have urged evacuees not to immediately return because thousands of homes remain without power and other services, and many roads are still blocked by downed trees and other debris.

The White House has said Biden plans to travel to New Orleans but more details about his specific plans and where he may go in the area will be forthcoming.

Joe Biden plans Louisiana hurricane-damage trip Friday
President Biden will travel to Hurricane-ravaged Louisiana on Friday, the White House announced. Above, a person wades through water while waiting for aid on September 01, 2021, in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Biden has designated Cedric Richmond, a top White House adviser and a former Louisiana congressman, as the point person on the federal response efforts.

"He knows the area," Biden said, introducing Richmond's role during a virtual meeting with state and local leaders in Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday.
"[Richmond] knows the people who have been affected by Ida, and he knows how to get things done in government."

More than a million homes in Louisiana lost power after the Category 4 storm hit Sunday, 16 years after Category 5 Hurricane Katrina ravaged the same Gulf Coast region. This week, the area also is under a heat advisory, with temperatures in the 90s, further exacerbating relief and rescue efforts.

"In Louisiana, more than 40 percent of the state remains without power in the middle of the heat advisory," Psaki said.

The area also is facing a significant gas shortage. According to the GasBuddy online tracker, nearly 60 percent of gas stations were without fuel in New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon. For Baton Rouge, the outage rate was about 54 percent.

Biden quickly approved a request from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards for a major federal disaster declaration, opening up the state and local governments, as well as individuals, for more federal assistance.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us and no one is under the illusion that this is going to be a short process," Edwards told reporters Tuesday.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell traveled to Louisiana earlier this week for an initial assessment ahead of Biden's visit.

Additionally, Biden held a private call with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and the CEOs of two major energy companies in the affected region Tuesday to discuss the widespread outages.

"Power restoration in parts of Louisiana could take weeks as crews assess the full extent of power system damage," Psaki said. "Lack of power and damage to the health care facilities in Louisiana remains a significant problem."