More than 750,000 homes and businesses were without power in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas in the wake of the storm, according to poweroutage.us, which follows utility reports.
Chevellce Dunn lives in one of these houses. She spent the night huddled on a sofa with her son, daughter and four nieces and nephews as the wind shook their home in Orange, Texas. Now she is without electricity in the sweltering heat.
“It’s not going to be easy. As long as my kids are okay, I’m okay, ”Dunn said.
One of the strongest hurricanes to hit the United States, Laura was charged with six deaths as she passed through Louisiana and parts of Texas.
Entire neighborhoods have been submerged and ruined along and near the coast. Twisted iron sheets and debris, downed trees and power lines littered nearly every street. The utility truck trailers were greeted by thunderstorms in the scorching heat on Friday, complicating recovery efforts.
“It is clear that we have not suffered and suffered the absolute and catastrophic damage that we thought was likely,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. “But we have suffered enormous damage. “
‘We feel blessed’
Ending search and rescue efforts was a top priority, Edwards said, followed by efforts to find hotel or motel rooms for those who couldn’t stay at home. Officials in Texas and Louisiana have both sought to avoid traditional mass shelters to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
He called Laura the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana, meaning it even passed Katrina, which was a Category 3 storm when it hit in 2005.
The hurricane’s maximum wind speed of 241 km / h puts it among the most powerful systems on record in the United States. spawning roads and tornadoes.
Pastor Steve Hinkle investigated the damage after a tornado ravaged his church of refuge in Lake City, Arkansas: an outdoor pavilion was reduced to rubble. A brick shed has been torn to pieces. The center of fraternity and family life was a tangle of bent metal beams. Yellow insulation littered the cemetery.
“He jumped right over the house and hit every other building the church has besides us,” said Hinkle, who huddled with his family in the parsonage bathroom after seeing transformers explode in the distance. “We are blessed. “
Sober warning from the Mayor of Lake Charles
Back in Louisiana, the storm crashed into the lowlands and hit Lake Charles, an industrial town and casino of 80,000 people. On Broad Street, many buildings had partially collapsed. The windows were blown out, the awnings torn off and the trees split open. A floating casino broke off and struck a bridge, and small planes were thrown at each other at the airport. The tower of a television station tipped over.
A Confederate statue outside a courthouse that local authorities had voted to keep in place days earlier was toppled by Laura.
“The people who are outside of Lake Charles who are thinking of coming back, they have to be very frank with themselves about the harsh reality of what they are coming back to,” Mayor Nic Hunter told NBC. Today show Friday. “I’m sorry, but we just got hit by the biggest hurricane to hit Louisiana in the past 150 years. ”
As the scale of the damage became visible, a huge plume of smoke visible from miles away began to rise from a chemical plant. Police said the leak was at a facility operated by Biolab, which makes chemicals used in household cleaners and chlorine powder for swimming pools. Residents in the surrounding area were told to close their windows and doors, and the fire started to cook overnight.
Four people were killed by fallen trees in Louisiana, including a 14-year-old girl and a 68-year-old man. A 24-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator inside his residence. Another man drowned in a boat that sank during the storm, authorities said.
No deaths had been confirmed in Texas, what Republican Governor Greg Abbott called a “miracle.”
Trump should visit
It was unclear when the return trip would be completed for the more than 580,000 coastal residents who evacuated in the shadow of a coronavirus pandemic. Although not everyone fled, officials credited those who left with minimizing the loss of life.
A weaker than expected storm surge also helped save lives. Edwards said the ocean water had risen to four meters. The forecast had indicated that they could reach six meters.
Bucky Millet, 78, of Lake Arthur, Louisiana, considered evacuating but decided due to the coronavirus to weather the storm as a family. A small tornado blew up the bed cover of his pick-up. It made him think that the roof of his house was next.
“You would hear a crunch and a boom and everything shaking,” he said.
WATCH Fierce winds in the first hours after arriving on earth:
Laura was the seventh named storm to hit the United States this year, setting a new record for American landings at the end of August. Laura struck the United States after killing nearly two dozen people on the island of Hispaniola, including 20 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit the Gulf Coast this weekend to tour the damage.