Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he's not concerned that President Barack Obama has not yet visited Louisiana to see the flood crisis first-hand.
"I'm not complaining in any way about our federal partnership," Edwards said during a news conference on Thursday.
President Barack Obama has requested regular briefings from the Federal Emergency Management…
Obama, who is on a family vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts this week, has not commented publicly on the flooding that has sparked disaster declarations for 20 parishes, nor has he announced plans to travel to Louisiana.
At least 13 people have died in the flood, and at least 40,000 homes have sustained damage.
Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, said the Louisiana flood is the worst national disaster since Superstorm Sandy struck the east coast in 2012.
"It's really devastating," she said.
On Thursday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson traveled to Louisiana to meet with Edwards, visit shelters and view flood-affected areas.
"The federal government is here, we've been here and we'll be here as long as it takes for this community to recover," he said.
Federal Emergency Management Agency head Craig Fugate came to Louisiana earlier this week.
Edwards, a Democrat, said that those trips, plus near daily communication with the White House, has shown that the flooding is a priority for the federal government. He said a visit from Obama, which would require heightened security and road closures, would be a drain on resources as the state still works to respond to the flood.
Much of south Louisiana shifted into post-flood mode Tuesday, with residents trickling back …
"Quite frankly, that's not something I want to go through right now," Edwards said. "I would just as soon he wait a week or two."
Edwards praised the local response to the flood.
"In Louisiana, taking care of one another is a way of life and we're on our way from response to recovery," he said.
A budget hearing at the State Capitol on Thursday shifted to lawmakers' concerns about the flood. Obama's absence to date was a point of contention for several.
"Where is the president?" Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie. "We need the president on the ground here, not playing golf."
But leaders also praised the work of the federal government as a much-welcomed departure from the difficulties experienced during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"This is not your 2005 FEMA,” said Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne. “They have been much more responsive.”
Senate President John Alario, a Westwego Republican who traveled with Edwards and FEMA leaders earlier this week to flood-struck areas, agreed.
“FEMA has been around since the first drop of rain hit the ground,” he said. “Whether the president is here or not, we’re getting a lot more help from the federal government."
FEMA already has started inspecting structures, which is a legally required accountability standard since the federal agency is giving out taxpayer dollars, Dardenne said. Up to 600 FEMA inspectors will be at work in the next couple days as flood waters recede.
“They want to do everything possible to keep people in their houses, where possible and quick repairs can be made,” he said.
Johnson, who met with Edwards and surveyed the flood zone before the Thursday afternoon press conference, said he expected to brief Obama on his trip and he said the president has been getting daily updates on the flood.
"The president can't be everywhere," Johnson said. "He's very much on top of the situation."