BATON ROUGE, La. — President Obama landed here Tuesday to tour flood-ravaged neighborhoods and to try to avoid the political minefields that his visit presents.

Obama has been under pressure for days to visit after flooding killed at least 13 people and displaced thousands from their homes this month. As the rains stopped, Obama was slammed for his decision last week to continue vacationing on the Massachusetts island resort of Martha’s Vineyard.

The White House defended Obama’s actions by touting the federal response to the disaster, including making $120 million in emergency funds available and the president dispatching a contingent of federal officials to Louisiana, led by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate.

Now that the immediate emergency is past, Obama wants to see damage firsthand, highlight the plight of residents and talk with local officials about how his administration can help, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

“The president is used to people trying to score political points even in situations where they shouldn’t,” Earnest said Tuesday. “We’re talking about lives lost. We’re talking about a community being upended.”

In Baton Rouge, standing outside her flooded brick home, Kejuana Sibley said she hoped Obama’s visit would open the door to more federal aid.

“I hope it brings an awareness” of the disaster, Sibley said.

FEMA officials have not been to her street in the hard-hit Sherwood Forrest area, where a neighbor died during the flooding.

Sibley, 32, pointed to the high water mark on her house, about 2 feet high, and at the vacant brick ranch houses surrounding her.

“It looks like a war zone in this neighborhood,” she said.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.