Sep 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden taps Cedric Richmond to lead Hurricane Ida response

Cedric Richmond and President Biden at a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 22, 2021.

Cedric Richmond and President Biden at a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 22. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said his administration is "working around the clock" to respond to damage from Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday.

Driving the news: Biden said White House senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond would lead Hurricane Ida recovery efforts. Richmond was a Louisiana congressman for 10 years.

  • Biden also said he directed Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to "use all of the tools at her disposal, including using a strategic petroleum reserve, to keep gas flowing to the pumps."
  • To ensure cell service for residents of Louisiana, Biden said he asked the Federal Communications Commission to work with cell phone companies to allow customers to use roaming services — regardless of their phone carrier.
  • "My message to the people in the Gulf Coast ... we are here for you. And we're making sure the response and recovery is equitable," Biden said Thursday. "So that those hit hardest get the resources they need, and are not left behind."

What he's saying: "I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all the first responders, and everyone who has been working through the night, well into the morning to save lives," Biden said of the flooding that happened overnight in New York and New Jersey from remnants of Ida.

  • "My message to everyone affected: we're all in this together. The nation is here to help. That's the message I've been making clear to the mayors, governors, energy, utility leads in the region."
  • "The past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the West and the unprecedented flash floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here," Biden said, adding that extreme weather is "one of the great challenges of our time."

The big picture: Ida tore through Louisiana and Mississippi earlier this week, claiming at least four lives and leaving nearly 1 million people in Louisiana without power — four days after the storm hit the state.

  • Power outages in Louisiana could last at least a month, CNN reports.
  • Additionally, 65.8% of gas stations in Baton Rouge and 65.2% in New Orleans don’t have gas, according to reports compiled by GasBuddy.
  • New York and New Jersey also experienced historic rainfall and flash flooding, killing at least 15 people, from the remnants of Hurricane Ida and other storm systems.
  • Preliminary data from NASA Earth suggests Ida was the fifth-strongest storm "ever to make landfall in the continental U.S."

What to watch: Biden is set to visit Louisiana on Friday in the aftermath of the storm.

Go deeper: In photos: Ida's impact across the U.S.

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