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President Obama To Visit Flood-Ravaged Louisiana

The announcement from the White House comes amid criticism that the president was playing golf on vacation instead of visiting the state.

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The White House said Friday that President Obama would visit flood-ravaged Louisiana on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

This AM @POTUS received an update from @DHSgov's Secretary Jeh Johnson on the ongoing response to the #LAflood.

The announcement comes amid criticism that Obama was continuing to vacation in Martha's Vineyard while the state reeled from the aftermath of deadly floods.

In a statement, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama planned to visit the state after a call with Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, on the ongoing response to the severe flooding in Baton Rouge.

The statement said that Obama had received updates in Martha's Vineyard on the situation in Louisiana. He is scheduled to visit Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

"The President is mindful of the impact that his travel has on first responders and wants to ensure that his presence does not interfere with ongoing recovery efforts," the statement said. "He is also eager to get a first-hand look at the impact of the devastating floods, hear from more officials about the response, including how the federal government can assist and tell the people of Louisiana that the American people will be with them as they rebuild their community and come back stronger than ever."

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Although Obama declared a major disaster in the state to expedite federal aid, he was criticized for continuing to vacation in Martha's Vineyard, most notably by Louisiana newspaper, The Advocate, which said, "It's time for President Barack Obama to visit the most anguished state in the union."

In an editorial Friday, the newspaper slammed Obama's response to the floods comparing it to former president George W. Bush's "official neglect" for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"Last week, as torrential rains brought death, destruction and misery to Louisiana, the president continued his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, a playground for the posh and well-connected," the editorial said.

The president did not have a "megaphone moment" in his response to the floods, the newspaper said.

"We’ve seen this story before in Louisiana, and we don’t deserve a sequel. In 2005, a fly-over by a vacationing President George W. Bush became a symbol of official neglect for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The current president was among those making political hay out of Bush’s aloofness," the editorial said.

While acknowledging Obama's efforts in speeding the flow of federal aid and dispatching high-ranking officials to the state, The Advocate said that the people of Louisiana needed "to see their president up close."

"Obama should recognize that leadership involves symbolism as well as substance. In times of profound need, people need to see their president up close. A president’s presence can underscore the urgency of relief efforts."

Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Trump supporter, slammed Obama in a Facebook post Thursday, saying, "I realize that in the hustle and bustle of golf, having ice cream, and strolling the quaint streets of the Vineyard you may not have noticed this catastrophic natural disaster."

Facebook: mikehuckabee

Other Trump supporters also took to social media to criticize Obama.

President Obama is making sure that the disastrous floods in Louisiana didn't hurt anyone in Martha's Vineyard.

Obama golfs while Louisiana floods https://t.co/Q0y1ddut8q

However, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, defended Obama, saying he would prefer if the president waited "another couple weeks" to visit so that resources for flood relief did not have to be diverted to providing security for his visit.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Obama and his family arrive at Air Station Cape Cod, in Mass., Saturday, Aug. 6.

Edwards told MSNBC Thursday that he did not feel "forgotten" by the federal government. He said he appreciated that Obama responded "within hours" to his request to declare a disaster and that he dispatched FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to the state.

He said that while Obama was welcome to visit, he would prefer if the president waited a couple of weeks.

"We have to take hundreds of local first responders, police officers, sheriffs, deputies and state troopers to provide security for that type of visit," Edwards said. "I would just as soon have those people engaged in the response rather than trying to secure the president. So I’d ask him to wait, if he would, another couple weeks."

In a press release, FEMA said that Obama "received updates throughout the day from his team on current response and recovery efforts underway in close coordination with state, local, and tribal officials."

Here’s a look at how the federal family is supporting #LAflood survivors: https://t.co/NyllIngMW6

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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