JEAN LAFITTE, La. -- Jodie Chiarello lost everything when Hurricane Isaac struck this bayou fishing town near New Orleans.
Friday, she was one of the storm victims who shared tales of Isaac’s destruction with Mitt Romney as he toured one of the areas hit hardest by the drenching downpours, which dumped more than 20 inches of rain on New Orleans.
Chiarello, 42, who described her home as submerged in floodwaters that rose “over the rooftop,” said she told the Republican presidential nominee that communities like hers in the Mississippi River delta need stronger flood protection.
“We can’t even get down to my house to see what my damage is,” she told reporters after a private conversation that Romney had with her and two other barefoot women wearing T-shirts in a parking lot outside a post office.
“He said that he was going to do the best that he could for us,” she said.
As Romney’s motorcade made its way through the area, residents watched from small boats in floodwaters that covered front lawns. “Where is our levee protection,” read a sign displayed at a house on Romney’s route.
Romney made one stop on a road to talk with a man in a straw hat who held a sign that said, “Mitt is our man.” Reporters overheard part of their conversation about levees failing to protect the area.
“It has really destroyed us,” the man said. “I don’t know why we can’t come up with something across the road that saves all.”
At the end of the conversation, Romney encouraged people in the area to ensure the man’s needs were taken care of.
“Good to see you guys. Thanks so much,” Romney said. “Watch out for this guy, all right?”
Romney also met with National Guard troops wearing military fatigues and boots.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to survey storm recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi on Sunday. President Obama has scheduled a trip to Louisiana to tour storm-damaged areas on Monday.