President Barack Obama visited Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday to meet with several flood victims and surveying areas hit hardest by flood waters. At the present time, 13 people died as a result of the historic floods and more than 60,000 homes have been damaged.
Retired Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré spoke with Roland Martin about the devastation experienced by the people of Louisiana and what is next for the flood-ravaged region, which he assessed is in worse shape than what is actually being reported by the media.
Honoré believes Mr. Obama’s visit to the region “came at a time when he could get out in the street and see people and see the aftermath of the clear-out.
“If you come too early, you would not see all of those possessions on the street … I think that’s important for our national leadership” to see.
Honoré blamed the lack of storm coverage on the national news coverage of the 31st Olympiad in Rio and the fact the storm was not named, which “slow rolled us on about four different days.”
Gen. Honoré believes the state’s assessment that 60,000 homes were lost or damaged is inaccurate. He told Martin the “Baton Rouge Foundation, along with some number crunchers, have validated that number is well over 110,000 homes.”
According to Honoré, up to 12,000 businesses were impacted by the floods: “All those businesses have their stuff on the street and they are not serving the community, so it’s having a cascading effect.”
Gen. Honoré said more than 70 percent of the businesses impacted did not have insurance and will need “special adjustments” to help them reopen. He also cautioned that over 40 percent of businesses fail two years after a natural disaster has occurred.
Honoré expressed concerns that local businesses and contractors will get shut out of conducting business with the government during the rebuilding process, because “government has a tendency to want to do business with big companies.” If this governmental practice is instituted in Louisiana during the current recovery effort, local residents won’t get the opportunity to participate in the recovery.
The general – best known for his exemplary leadership during Hurricane Katrina – said, “We might be already going down the wrong path, everybody in America should be able to get a shot at this work and we should do it as quickly as we can.
“But if we do it too quick, we’ll bring all of the outside resources in and our local people who can’t work at these businesses will not get a shot at these jobs.”
Watch Roland Martin, retired Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, and journalist Michelle McCalope discuss the aftermath of the historic Louisiana flooding in the video clip above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty