BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - People in a flood-damaged area north of Baton Rouge got to show and tell President Barack Obama about the damage they suffered this month in a historic flood. The president assured victims around the state Tuesday that the federal government will continue to help them.
His visit came as Obama has been under attack for only now visiting the state where more than a dozen people died and tens of thousands of homes took on water.
"Good to see you," said Obama as he approached a group of flood victims outside a gutted out home in the Castle Place Subdivision in Zachary, not far from Baton Rouge.
To get to residents' doors the president passed mounds of debris stacked alongside the subdivision's streets.
"As I think anybody who can see just the streets, much less the insides of homes here, people's lives have been up-ended by this flood," said the president.
His visit to the middle class subdivision was something neighborhood residents thought they would never see.
"It's a once in a lifetime thing that happens," said Quincy Snowden.
A podium from which President Obama would speak from was set up next to Snowden's home.
"Sometimes when these type of things happen it can seem too much to bear, but what I want the people of Louisiana to know is that you're not alone on this even after the TV cameras leave, the whole country is going to continue to support you, and help you until we get folks back in their homes and lives are rebuilt," said the president.
FOX 8 News asked Snowden and some of his neighbors what they spoke to the president about and if they made a request of him. All said they did not ask him for anything in particular because they said they are pleased with what FEMA has done so far.
"Just told him that we appreciate him coming down and assessing the situation and giving us a little spotlight time to let people know what's really going on down here in Louisiana," Snowden said.
The president came to try to dispel doubts about whether he cares about the flood victims in Louisiana. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump visited flood victims in the Baton Rouge area last week. His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has not come to see the flood damage yet.
Still, the president said his administration did not wait until his arrival in the state to begin coming to the aid of flood victims. He said so far $127 million in federal assistance has flowed into Louisiana.
"We are heartbroken by the loss of life. There are also people trying to desperately track down friends and family, we're going to keep on helping them, every way that we can," the president said.
When asked about criticism that the president was slow to come to the state, flood victim Rita Polk said, "I think he came in good enough time."
The president spoke from the edge of the front yard of Leroy and Melissa Williams. They got a special gesture from him.
"Was just honored to meet him and actually he actually sent out a happy birthday shout out to our daughters who celebrated a birthday last week, another one coming up in a couple of weeks," said Melissa Williams.
One of their daughters is named Malia, just as one of the president's daughter's is named. In the neighborhood with many African Americans, the president's visit was a bright spot during difficult times.
"I told him it was a blessing to still be alive, to still have a roof over our head, we just lost everything that was in it," said Rose Armstong.