President Obama slammed for not visiting Louisiana flood sites

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Unprecedented Louisiana Flooding 'Is Not a Sightseeing Tour'



President Barack Obama is facing harsh backlash for continuing his vacation in Martha's Vineyard while Louisiana is reeling from its worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina.

So far, last week's heavy rainfall has destroyed some 40,000 homes, which has displaced about 8,000 people. Thirteen people have died so far.

SEE ALSO: 'It turns your heart upside down': Flooding crisis in Louisiana far from over

President Obama declared the floods a natural disaster on Sunday and redirected federal aid to help the state recover. Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson is set to visit Baton Rouge on Thursday to review the ongoing response and recovery efforts in the area.

But some are questioning why the president is not showing up himself.

Baton Rouge's local newspaper, The Advocate, wrote an op-ed with one message to President Obama, a "hurting Louisiana needs you now."

SEE MORE: See photos of the flooding impact in Louisiana

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A truck takes a detour through a flooded street in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, U.S., August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jeffrey Dubinsky
A truck drives through a flooded street in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, U.S., August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jeffrey Dubinsky
An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans rescues three people from a rooftop due to flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., in this still image from video taken on August 13, 2016. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans rescues three people from a rooftop due to flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., in this still image from video taken on August 13, 2016. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans rescues three people from a rooftop due to flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., A in this still image from video taken on August 13, 2016. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans rescues three people from a rooftop due to flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., in this still image from video taken on August 13, 2016. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Acadian Thruway is covered in floodwaters in this handout picture from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development taken in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. August 12, 2016. Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Verot School Rd is seen covered in floodwaters in this handout picture taken by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, U.S. August 12, 2016. Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
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Previous presidents have bypassed Louisiana after natural disasters. President George W. Bush was widely criticized after he flew over a flooded New Orleans in 2005. Democrats were especially critical.

President Obama's frequent golf trips and yearly vacations have come under scrutiny by Republicans who point to his trips as evidence of inaction.

And some Republicans are criticizing him now for participating in a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Monday instead of visiting Louisiana.

"President Barack Obama has yet to even address the situation, never mind lead the effort to respond. Bush got ridiculed in the media for his action, there has been media silence on Obama's inaction," Robert Eno wrote for the Conservative Review.

Obama did travel to New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy and hugged Republican Gov. Chris Christie in a sign of administration support just weeks before the 2012 presidential election.

Related: 'It Turns Your Heart Upside Down': Flooding Crisis in Louisiana Far From Over

According to Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center of Politics, Obama may be waiting for the water to recede, since his visit could affect rescue efforts.

"In Obama's defense, he may be waiting for the water to recede and first responders to do their jobs. A presidential visit brings rescue efforts to a halt and complicates the overall effort logistically. Timing is critical" Sabato said.

But the longer Obama waits, the worse his reputation will look as more images of displaced families come to light, Sabato said.

"It will be a serious public relations mistake if the president doesn't break off for a day and visit."

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