“My message to everyone affected is we’re all in this together. The nation is here to help. That’s the message I’ve been making clear to the majors, governors, energy and utility leaders in the region who my administration has been working closely with over the last few days,” he said on Thursday.
His administration will “be working around the clock until the critical needs of the region are fully met,” Biden said, adding that he’ll visit Lousiana, where the storm made landfall over the past weekend as a Category 4 hurricane. “We will meet them.”
The president tapped White House senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond to lead Ida’s recovery efforts. Richmond was a congressman from Louisiana for 10 years.
Hurricane Ida, the remnants of which interacted with a frontal boundary in the northeastern United States and triggered heavy rainfall in the New York City metropolitan area, was the strongest storm to hit Louisiana in more than 150 years, according to some estimates.
During his speech, Biden also called on private insurance companies to help “some folks who are hurting” amid reports that some insurance firms could deny assistance to homeowners unless they were under a mandatory evacuation order.
“I’m calling on the private insurance companies right now, at this critical moment, don’t hide behind the fine print and technicality. Do your job. Keep your commitments to your communities that you insure. Do the right thing,” he said.
When the storm’s remnants impacted the northeastern United States, New York and New Jersey Govs. Kathy Hochul and Phil Murphy issued states of emergency due to the rain, which interrupted flights at Newark Liberty International Airport, flooded streets, and halted the operation of the New York City subway system.
“We’ve been monitoring this hurricane closely and the devastation it’s caused. To date, six deaths, about a million homes without power in Louisiana and Mississippi. While the catastrophic flooding wasn’t as severe as it was during Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago, Ida was so powerful that it caused the Mississippi River literally to change direction, change the flow, temporarily,” Biden said.
While New Orleans’ levee system held up, levees in outlying areas failed and the hurricane knocked out power to all of New Orleans. According to Poweroutages.us, more than 920,000 people were without power in Louisiana at the time of publishing. Meanwhile, 65 percent of gas stations in New Orleans do not have gas, said reports from GasBuddy.
The storm killed at least 22 people from Maryland to New York on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Nine people died in New York City, police said, one of them in a car and eight in flooded basement apartments that often serve as relatively affordable homes for low-income people. Officials said at least eight died in New Jersey and three in Pennsylvania’s suburban Montgomery County; one was killed by a falling tree, one drowned in a car, and another in a home. An on-duty state trooper in Connecticut was swept away in his cruiser and later taken to a hospital, state police and local authorities said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.