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‘Build back better,’ President Biden urges during visit to LaPlace

LAPLACE — U.S. President Joe Biden was reminded of the need for stronger infrastructure as he walked through the Cambridge neighborhood in LaPlace Friday afternoon, surveying extensive wind and water devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

“Build back better,” was a major theme of Biden’s remarks in St. John the Baptist Parish.

While in LaPlace, he took note of countless downed telephone poles. For days, locals have been left with no electricity and with little communication to the outside world, making it difficult to access resources needed for recovery.

“We know if (the wires) are underground, they are secure. It costs more money. We’ve got to not build back just to where it was with the same old poles up,” Biden said. “We’ve got to build back better and more resiliently. We’ve got to make sure we do the same thing across the board.”

According to Biden, Hurricane Ida is a reminder that Louisiana and the United States needs to be prepared for the next disaster.

“Super storms are going to come, and they are going to come more frequently and more ferociously,” Biden said. “I’ve been working with the governor and with our colleagues in Congress of both parties on our Build Back Better Plan that will modernize our roads, our bridges, our water systems, sewers and drainage systems, power grids and transmission lines to make sure they are more resilient.”

He added that the federally-funded, $760 million West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project underway in St. John the Baptist Parish is a step in the right direction. The project, estimated for completion in 2024, is set to provide storm surge protection for 60,000 residents in the River Parishes with 17.5 miles of levee, one mile of T-wall, four pumping stations, two drainage structures and approximately 35 utility relocations.

“I told the governor he has my full support to get this project done,” Biden said.

He left the community with a reminder to come together and help one another, regardless of political affiliation.

“This isn’t about being a Democrat or a Republican. We’re Americans, and we’ll get through this together,” he said. “Just remember, we don’t only have to build back. We have to build back better than it was before.”