Obama toured ravaged homes and talked with relatives of some of the 13 people killed by flooding from severe rains of the last two weeks. With Republican and Democratic officials at his side, he dismissed criticism that he ignored the unfolding disaster while he was on vacation, and instead urged Americans to help.
"Nobody on this block, none of those first responders - nobody gives a hoot whether you're a Democrat or a Republican," Obama said during his tour. "What they care about is making sure they're getting the drywall out, the carpet out, there's not any mold building, they get some contractors in here and they start rebuilding as quick as possible."
Obama made particular note of the speed with which his
More than 100,000 people have applied for federal assistance.
But the bipartisan array of officials touring with Obama made for an image that stood out for its contrast from the partisan accusations lobbed in recent days.
Republican presidential nominee
Trump charged Tuesday that the president should have gone to
"Too little, too late!" he tweeted as Obama was en route to
Local critics were quick to take offense last week when Obama did not leave his vacation to go see the flooding damage. The Advocate,
"It evoked the precedent of the passive federal response to the state's agony in 2005, a chapter of history no one should ever repeat," the editors wrote, referring to the lackluster federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
Aides to Obama have insisted that the theatrics of a presidential visit weren't the point of the trip, but rather to inspect the federal government's response.
When a natural disaster hits, competent leadership matters more than partisan politics, Obama suggested.
"When you get into trouble, you want somebody who knows what they're doing," Obama said. "And that's true whatever party" is in office.
Residents still gutting flooded brick homes stepped outside to greet Obama, who hugged them and stopped to chat. Several said Obama asked them to gauge
"He seemed pretty interested in what we're going through," said
Last week, many roads in this town 15 miles north of