Obama to tour flooded areas of Louisiana

Angela Greiling Keane

President Barack Obama will visit Baton Rouge next week, the White House said on Friday, following criticism that he had stuck to his vacation schedule even as unexpectedly severe floods ravaged parts of Louisiana.

The president discussed the flooding on Friday morning with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who visited the affected region the day before, the White House said in an emailed statement announcing the Aug. 23 trip. The announcement came hours after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made a high-profile visit of his own to survey flood damage on Friday.

Obama opted to stay on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, for the second of two weeks of vacation with his family as he did two years ago, when riots erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, during his annual trip. He has kept up a schedule of golf, dinners out and beach time, leading to mounting criticism that he was ignoring a growing U.S. crisis.

“The president is mindful of the impact that his travel has on first responders and wants to ensure that his presence does not interfere with ongoing recovery efforts,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in explaining why he won’t go until next week. “He is also eager to get a first-hand look at the impact of the devastating floods, hear from more officials about the response, including how the federal government can assist.”

Earlier in the week, Obama was briefed by Johnson and his homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco.