Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L), and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, address supporters at a rally in Cleveland last month. The two men toured flood-ravaged Louisiana on Friday. Photo by Aude Guerrucci/UPI | License Photo
BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence visited flood-ravaged Louisiana on Friday, comforting devastated homeowners and criticizing President Barack Obama for continuing his vacation instead of visiting the region.
Trump met with individual homeowners and a group of volunteers at a church outside Baton Rouge, where days of torrential rain caused rivers to overflow their banks, sending walls of water crashing into neighborhoods across central Louisiana.
At least 13 people were killed.
"The president says he doesn't want to come, he is trying to get out of a golf game," Trump told volunteers at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church.
Speaking at a rally Thursday night, Trump said he was praying for those affected by the floods.
"Our prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones, and we send them our deepest condolences," Trump said. "Though words cannot express the sadness one feels at times like this, I hope everyone in Louisiana knows that our country is praying for them and standing with them to help them in these difficult hours."
The White House said Friday Obama has received updates on the recovery efforts multiple times a day while vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, toured the damaged area on Thursday.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said he encouraged Obama not to visit yet because a presidential tour could divert resources needed to focus on the recovery.
Edwards said he was not given advance notice of Trump's trip Friday.
"Gov. Edwards wasn't informed of the Trump campaign's visit to the state or the schedule," according to a statement from the governor's office. "We welcome them to Louisiana, but not for a photo-op. Instead, we hope they'll consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of this storm."
Hillary Clinton said Friday on Facebook that after talking with Edwards she would not be visiting the region, keeping the full focus there on flood recovery efforts.
"The flooding there is bigger than anyone expected -- more than 40,000 homes have been damaged and more than 100,000 people have been affected," Clinton said. "My heart breaks for Louisiana, and right now, the relief effort can't afford any distractions. The very best way this team can help is to make sure Louisianans have the resources they need."
She encouraged supporters to donate to the Red Cross or the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, a local umbrella organization directing funds to community groups in need.