JEAN LAFITTE, La. (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney launched the final leg of his quest for the White House by visiting storm-battered Louisiana on Friday. He drove through a town that was flooded by Hurricane Isaac in part because it’s still outside the vast flooding protection system built with federal funds after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
His host, Gov. Bobby Jindal, is now calling on the federal government to expand the rebuilt flood protection system that prevented serious flooding in New Orleans during this week’s storm. That system, built after flooding from Katrina devastated much of New Orleans, cost the Army Corps of Engineers $14.5 billion. It doesn’t extend as far as Jean Lafitte, which is situated in Jefferson Parish, and has been affected by a series of hurricanes, including Katrina, Rita, Cindy and now Isaac.
Romney was silent on whether, as president, he would support paying for such an expansion. Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has proposed eliminating $10 billion a year in disaster spending and requiring Congress to pay for emergencies by cutting from elsewhere in the budget. That proposal was blocked by GOP leaders.
Romney shook hands with National Guardsmen outside the U.S. Post Office and talked with a local resident, Jodie Chiarello, 42, who lost her home in Isaac’s flooding.
“He just told me to, um, there’s assistance out there,” Chiarello said of her conversation with Romney. “He said, go home and call 211.” That’s a public service number offered in many states.