Below is the latest White House Press Pool report –
Subject: Pool report #6a
From POTUS’s tour:
As motorcade pulled into Ridgewood, the neighborhood in La Place, the flood damage to the homes here immediately became apparent. There were blue tarps covering some rooftops, uprooted trees and downed wooded fences.
As motorcade continued, homes deeper in had damaged goods and debris scattered across their lawns and piled up along the curb: furniture, carpeting, cotton-candy colored wall insulation, sofas strollers, mattresses, refrigerators, TVs, recliners, shelving units, dining room chairs, tables and heaps of clothing. On top of some of the piles were handmade signs reading, “Don’t take.” A pink stroller was tossed on top of another.
The houses were single family and one-story with red brick exterior.
People were outside on their driveways and sidewalks when the motorcade stopped and POTUS emerged from his SUV. He’s wearing khaki pants and sturdy boots. He was joined on the tour by federal and local officials, including Sens. David Vitter and Mary Landreiu, FEMA director Craig Fugate, Gov. Bobby Jindal, St. John the Baptist Sheriff Mike Tregre and St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom.
Mr. Obama went house to house shaking hands with residents and chatting among the debris. At one home he walked past the mattresses, bits of carpet and a rocking horse set at the curb, up to the front door and peered inside.
“How y’all doing?” Mr. Obama said to residents outside the home next door.
“Better now” one man replied. “I know it’s a mess,” Mr. Obama said.
Crossing the street POTUS visited another house. The family’s yard was dotted with mattresses, furniture, a fan and a heap of stuffed black trash bags. Dresser drawers were piled up on a tan sofa. A toy car and soaked brown teddy bear were tossed next to a trash can. A white door was spray painted in red, “Do Not Take”
The air smelled rotten, like sweage and wet trash baking in the sun.
“I know it’s a mess,” Mr. Obama said as he approached. “But we’re here to help.”
“This is our second time” being hit, a woman told him. “Well it wasn’t supposed to come here,” Mr. Obama responded. She told him how right after she and her husband got married Katrina hit. Mr. Obama chatted with the family for a few moments.
Back across the street Mr. Obama greeted some excited residents. Pool couldn’t hear much but they said something about his inauguration and he made a promise pool couldn’t hear.
He then walked back across the street to chat with a family as they stood among ripped up carpet and padding clustered on the sidewalk.
Pool then walked to site at the end of the block where a small lectern is set up for POTUS’s statement, past a home with a sofa, chairs and other household items outside and a “For Sale” sign in the yard with a note on top that said “Fully Furnished.”
POTUS stepped to the podium at 6:19pm – remarks coming in separate pool report.
Kathleen Hennessey of the LA Times spoke with one of the residents:
Melanie Basil, 43, lived in her house for 13 years. She says she and two of her kids were rescued by boat from their home, which is one block over for where POTUS walked.
Basil called the experience “traumatic.” For her family, the damage is much worse than Katrina.
On Obama coming to see: “I think it’s
awesome and I think it’s high time. He’s missing the full effect. One day can make all the difference.”
Basil said she feels like “with all that going on in the news. We’re not getting as much attention. We kind of fell off the map.”
Basil says she was denied federal housing aid.
She voted for Obama and plans to do so again.