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Surveying LaPlace, President Biden calls for improved access to hurricane relief resources

LAPLACE — When U.S. President Joe Biden toured the storm-ravaged Cambridge subdivision in LaPlace Friday afternoon, he vowed to help locals gain access to resources needed to recover from Hurricane Ida.

Biden attended a briefing with local officials at the Emergency Operations Center before hitting the ground in St. John the Baptist Parish, where he listened to concerns from residents impacted by severely limited communications in Ida’s aftermath.

“A lot of people here, because they don’t have cell connection, are unaware of what available help there is right now,” Biden said. “The FEMA director and I were just talking, and we’re going to make sure we have someone coming through here going door-to-door, letting people know what’s available to them right now.”

Biden also had a message for insurance companies that threaten to deny coverage for living expenses, such as hotel stays, for residents in parishes like St. John the Baptist Parish that were not issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Biden said his administration is putting as much pressure on insurance companies as possible so those impacted by the storm can get the help they deserve.

“We know with parishes that issued strong voluntary evacuation orders, many didn’t have enough time to make that order mandatory, as the storm moved so fast,” Biden said. “Even with voluntary evacuation orders, folks felt safest leaving their homes in many cases. No one fled this killer storm because they were looking for a vacation or a road trip. They left their home because they felt they had to flee the risk of death. There’s nothing voluntary about that.”

He added, “I’m calling on private insurance companies: Don’t hide behind the fine print and a technicality. Pay what you owe your customers. Cover temporary housing costs in natural disasters. Help those in need.”

Help is already on the way when it comes to the distribution of supplies and utilities. Biden said 25,000 linemen from across the country have come to Louisiana to help in recovery efforts, representing 32 different states. Sadly, two linemen have lost their lives in the process of trying to restore power.

The Biden administration is working closely with energy companies to deploy additional federal resources, including hundreds of generators. The administration is also working with cell phone companies to restore communications and help people reach their loved ones in storm-impacted areas.

Thus far, $100 million in critical assistance has been directed to the people in Louisiana. Those who contact FEMA are eligible to receive $500 in their bank account.

At Governor John Bel Edwards’ request, FEMA is helping with transitional sheltering assistance.

To apply, please visit disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.