LAKE CHARLES • United States President Donald Trump has surveyed damage in Louisiana and Texas from Hurricane Laura, which slammed into the Gulf Coast as a Category Four storm two days earlier.
Mr Trump on Saturday met first responders, members of the National Guard, city officials and Congress members in Lake Charles, Louisiana, during about two hours there.
With his entourage, he walked – maskless – through a neighbourhood littered with damaged houses, downed trees and toppled power lines.
He later travelled on to nearby Orange, Texas, via helicopter, to inspect conditions from the air and ground.
“I’m here to support the great people of Louisiana,” Mr Trump said in remarks at the Lake Charles Fire Department. “This was a tremendously powerful storm.”
The President said that Louisiana has “been through a lot”, between the massive hurricane and its Covid-19 outbreak.
“You’ve done a great job,” he told Mr John Bel Edwards, the state’s Democratic governor.
Mr Edwards said Laura was the most powerful hurricane to strike the state.
Hurricane Katrina hit 15 years ago as a Category Three storm, devastating New Orleans and killing over 1,800 people.
Mr Trump noted that many residents were without power and therefore also without air-conditioning, with temperatures and humidity climbing.
“When people get used to air conditioning and all of a sudden they don’t have it, that’s a very traumatic situation,” he said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has so far delivered some 2.6 million litres of water and 1.4 million meals to residents displaced by the storm, Mr Trump said.
In Orange, he visited the county’s emergency operations centre for an update on the government response.
Laura made landfall last Thursday morning, packing winds of 241kmh, some of the strongest to hit the region in more than a century. The death toll in Louisiana and Texas is at least 16, the Associated Press reported.
Hundreds of thousands of residents are still without water and power.
The storm’s track shifted east at the last moment to strike the region visited by Mr Trump, along the border between the two states, while sparing nearby oil refineries.
A chemical fire that broke out in Lake Charles at a KIK Custom Products-owned BioLab facility is now under control.