Residents hope Biden visit will draw focus on area needs

Crystal Stevenson

When President Joe Biden arrives in Lake Charles today as part of his Getting America Back on Track tour, many area residents are hopeful his message will garner the attention they say the area needs to fully recover from two devastating hurricanes.

“With his visit, hopefully he will bring federal and national attention to our community and to our roads and the port, as well,” Wayne Smith said. “It’s a great city that we have and I’m hoping he will be able to see our city while he’s here. I know he was here after Hurricane Rita and so he knows what our city can be and I hope he’s part of the plan to make our city what it will be again.”

Smith said he also hopes the visit will be well-received.

“We’ve had previous administrations come and they were well-received regardless of political affiliations and I really hope when President Biden comes that he will be shown the same respect that any seated president should receive,” he said. “I think Lake Charles needs some extra attention, some TLC, and I think we can all agree on that and I think he’s coming for that.”

Smith said he can tell Biden is someone who is “nurturing and caring” and he hopes that “doesn’t fall on deaf ears.”

“I’m concerned about people turning their backs on him without just cause,” Smith said.

Michelle Williams said she is also excited the president has chosen to come to Lake Charles.

“There’s been a lot of division, even before he got into office, but he’s trying to accomplish so many things and get things done,” she said. “The downside is there are so many people who are against him, even though he’s trying to do the right thing. Even though he is for the people, you have people who are against him just for politics and that frustrates me.”

Williams said she hopes when Biden arrives in Southwest Louisiana he will be seen “the way that he should be seen — he’s for the people, he has a good heart and he’s trying to get a lot of things accomplished for the people.”

Her husband, Patrick, said he’s hoping Biden can help speed up hurricane recovery efforts in the area.

“I hear people around here always ask why rebuilding is taking so long. ‘Everything still needs repairs — the schools, the parks — and everybody is waiting on FEMA money,’ is the answer I get,” he said. “Hopefully he can speed up the recovery process and bring that recognition to the area that we’re still far from recovered.”

Williams said he hopes Biden’s visit will also help rebuild the area’s economy and speed up the process for building a new Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge.

“The restaurants and the hotels here are struggling to survive so if he can do those things I think it will be a big help.”

Charles Lee said on a scale of one to 10 of excitement, he’d rate himself at about a 7.5

“I hope he will see how everything is over here compared to the two other hurricanes, Rita and Katrina, in 2005,” he said. “If you compare it to what is going on over here in 2020, it’s a totally different feel because we got a lot of help and a lot of assistance the first time but not as much now. When Katrina did what it did to New Orleans the squeakiest wheel got the oil. Since we’re not as loud as New Orleans we didn’t get as much national attention as New Orleans did.”

He said he also hopes Biden will be able to improve Lake Charles’ infrastructure issues.

“The traffic here is horrible and the bridge needs repaired,” he said. “I don’t want there to be a toll on the new bridge, but if it’s $1 or $2 I’ll deal with it.”

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President Joe Biden

Associated Press

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