While on Vacation, Obama Issues ‘Do Not Discriminate’ Memo to Officials in Flood-Ravaged Louisiana

The catastrophic flooding in Louisiana is being called the worst natural disaster in the United States since superstorm Sandy. CNN reports that over 6.9 trillion gallons of water rained down on parts of the state over a week-long period from August 8th-14th.

More than 40,000 homes have been damaged, tens of thousands of residents have been rescued, and 13 people have died as a result of the calamity.

While President Obama didn’t cut short his 16-day Martha’s Vineyard vacation to tour the damage, his administration did make time to issue a memorandum Tuesday to make sure the relief efforts were non-discriminatory.

Here are some excerpts from the 16-page “Title VI” memo:

  • “Care must be taken to ensure that actions, both intentional and unintentional, do not exclude groups of people based on race, color, national origin (including limited English proficiency), religion, sex, or disability.”
  • “Those planning for Katrina appeared to assume most people could rely on personal vehicles to evacuate and failed to consider the transportation needs of all segments of the population.”
  • “Many seeking temporary housing immediately encountered discriminatory advertisements that explicitly refused to rent to African Americans.”

The memo goes on to list suggested “promising practices” to mitigate racial and economic disparities in the recovery process.

Image Credit: Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images
Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images

According to The Washington Times, some Louisiana residents weren’t at all pleased by the President’s memo.

Conservative writer Rod Dreher was livid:

“…consider how people here in Louisiana would interpret the fact that on Tuesday, while local rescuers were still pulling people off of roofs, and after a long, hot weekend that stretched law enforcement in the city and region to the max (half of BRPD officers lost their houses to the flood), the Obama Administration issued a memo telling Louisiana agencies that we had better not be racist in providing disaster assistance…”

Dreher added that while he watched officials working overtime to “help people of all races,” seeing the memo “made me furious.”

“It’s like, is that really what you think of us? That we’re just a bunch of rednecks dying to discriminate?”

Others were equally incensed.

The Washington Times quotes a Louisiana resident named Jimmy, who wrote in an email:

“Not many things get me seething, but this does…Meanwhile, our President enjoys golfing and Martha’s Vineyard and sunny skies. No visits, not even that reviled Bush flyover.”

Image Credit: Paul Morse / White House / Getty Images
Image Credit: Paul Morse/White House/Getty Images

The Advocate also slammed Obama, begging him not to repeat Bush’s flyover “neglect.”

“Alas, there has been no megaphone moment for President Barack Obama in his response to the catastrophe plaguing south Louisiana this week. In the wake of a storm that displaced thousands and flooded huge swaths of the region, Obama continued his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard.”

After intense backlash, and a visit to Louisiana from GOP candidate Donald Trump, it was announced that President Obama will tour the state on Tuesday, two days after the conclusion of his vacation.

For comparison, President Bush cut his vacation short when Katrina struck. His infamous flyover took place just two days after the hurricane made landfall, and the president flew to New Orleans to hold a strategy meeting four days after landfall.

By the time President Obama visits Louisiana Tuesday, it will have been nine days since the rain stopped.

That being said, according to ABC, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards defended Obama’s decision to stay away, arguing “the president’s visit could be disruptive.” The governor also praised the response by FEMA, something the Bush administration was strongly criticized over.

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