Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited a devastated Louisiana on Thursday as the state's governor said that at least 13 people had died and that more than 86,000 people have registered for federal disaster assistance in flooding that has ravaged the state for days, NBC News reported.
"The federal government is here. We will be here as long as it takes to let this community recover," Johnson said at a news conference Thursday afternoon in Baton Rouge, the state capital. Johnson, who arrived Thursday in Louisiana, said he met with state and local officials to discuss the extent of the flooding.
Johnson and Gov. John Bel Edwards both defended President Barack Obama against criticism for continuing vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., instead of visiting Louisiana.
Edwards said he had been in close contact with the administration since the disaster and that the extra security and police presence needed during such high-profile visits could take away from recovery efforts.