Biden to tour New Orleans hurricane damage

President Joe Biden, who has made threats from climate change a priority, flies to New Orleans on Friday to tour damage from Hurricane Ida, which pounded the Gulf Coast before bringing havoc to New York.

This will be Biden’s first trip out of the Washington area since his administration became consumed by the crisis in Afghanistan, where a sudden Taliban victory prompted the hectic evacuation of the last US troops and more than 120,000 Afghans and foreign citizens.

Biden is scheduled to meet with local and state officials, tour damage on the ground and inspect Ida’s impact from a helicopter.

Keen to return to domestic issues, Biden will likely use his trip to highlight the links between increasing episodes of extreme weather and the broader global climate crisis.

On Thursday, he said Hurricane Ida and uncontrollable wild fires in the US west are “yet another reminder” of the crisis.

“It’s a matter of life and death and we need to meet it together,” he said in a speech at the White House.

Hurricane Ida, a category four storm, delivered huge floods and wind damage in the south, hitting one of the epicenters of the US oil industry, as well as pounding historic New Orleans.

Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi took hits before remnants of the storm rolled north to New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, inundating the New York City subway and flooding streets across the US financial capital.

In the New Orleans area alone, about a million people were left without power and swaths of the city remain without electricity or running water.

On Thursday, Biden told Ida’s victims “we’re all in this together. The nation is ready to help.”

He said he’d ordered the use of drones and military satellites to help survey damage and speed up “complicated and really dangerous” repair work.

He also ordered use of the critical US petroleum reserve to smooth the supply disruption caused by the hurricane at oil refineries.

“My message to the people of the Gulf Coast… (is) we are here for you,” he said.

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