Biden set to travel to Louisiana to survey damage from Hurricane Ida
(CNN) -- President Joe Biden is headed to Louisiana on Friday to survey damage from Hurricane Ida, after almost a week of the deadly storm ravaging the eastern half of the United States.
The White House has said Biden would survey storm damage and meet with state and local officials. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the President would travel to New Orleans and is expected to meet with Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, among other officials.
Since the Category 4 Hurricane plowed through the Gulf Coast over the weekend, there have been at least five confirmed deaths tied to the hurricane in Mississippi and Louisiana. Entire neighborhoods were windswept, flooded and damaged.
More than 900,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana remained without power on Thursday, according to PowerOutage.US. And it could take weeks for power to be restored in some places, officials have said.
There are also gas shortages in Louisiana -- a critical region for the US' oil production and distribution -- leading residents to wait hours at the pump in high temperatures.
As of Thursday morning, nearly two-thirds of the gas stations in Baton Rouge (65.8%) and New Orleans (65.2%) were without fuel, according to outage figures compiled by GasBuddy. Nearly 36% of the gas stations statewide are reported as without fuel.
Ida's damage didn't stop in the Gulf and the Deep South.
In the last few days, the storm pummeled the East Coast, triggering flash floods and tornadoes across the Northeast. There have been at least 45 deaths in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia caused by floods.
Biden has emphasized his administration's deployment of federal resources to affected areas and his daily briefings on the storm. Most recently, on Thursday morning, the President highlighted several steps the federal government is taking to prevent the risk of gas shortages and price increases in the wake of the storm. And Thursday afternoon, the Biden administration announced it would be releasing 1.5 million barrels of crude oil from America's emergency stockpile of oil as Louisiana's gas crisis worsens.
The Bush administration tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve after Hurricane Katrina caused severe damage to the energy industry. The Trump administration did the same after Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.
Managing hurricanes has become a key test for presidents seeking to convey competence. Previous storms, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Maria in 2017, have strained federal resources and reflected poorly on the White House.
The Biden White House has acknowledged it faces two, if not more, natural disasters exacerbated by climate change across the country.
While a hurricane and destructive floods faced the eastern half of the United States, the Caldor Fire in the West has torched nearly 200,000 acres in California.
Biden's trip to Louisiana, his second to the state since coming into office, comes as he appears to face multiple domestic and international crises.
The visit to the Gulf is happening three days after the US' full withdrawal from Afghanistan, a chaotic airlift operation that left Afghans and American service members dead. And the US also continues to contend with the coronavirus, the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant, and the pandemic's impact on the economy.
Biden's approval rating, meanwhile, is at its lowest point in his presidency.
In the average of polls, he stood at about 47% at the end of August, marking a steady decline from the beginning of August (51%), July (52%) and beginning of June (54%).
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