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On August 27 around 1 a.m., the category four storm Hurricane Laura landed on the Louisana coastline in the parish of Cameron. The hurricane became the region’s strongest storm in over a century, with wind speeds of 150 miles per hour. As the hurricane arrived in Cameron, over six thousand residents were put under a mandatory evacuation. According to the parish’s Emergency Operations Division, 150 people refused to leave.
Hurricane Laura traveled further north after landfall, and its winds could be felt as far away as the parish of Claiborne. The destruction was responsible for at least 16 deaths in Louisiana, eight of which were reported to be caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from generators. Hurricane Laura also caused four deaths in Texas and 23 in the Caribbean. According to a power outage map, about 300,000 Louisiana homes and businesses still do not have power following the storm. Additionally, more than 57,700 Texans still lack electricity. Many people in Caribbean countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba do not have power as well.
Officials have warned returning residents of southwestern Louisiana that they will face weeks without power or water amid the hot days of late summer. Many people are still deciding whether they want to return home to miserable conditions or wait until essential services are restored. For example, Hurricane Laura knocked out most of the water service in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The city administrator stated some plants that are open, but that the water system is not functional enough to serve the entire city. As of Thursday, the service’s water pressure was in the single digits.
The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated efforts to shelter Hurricane Laura evacuees safely. Some evacuees are being directed to hotels instead of shelters to minimize the risk of forcing people into close quarters. Even before Hurricane Laura made landfall, an intake center in Austin, Texas began turning away evacuees when it ran out of hotel rooms.
Evacuated residents have returned home. Many are worried whether they would get enough support from both the federal and state governments. The rebuilding process will take several months, if not longer.
Insurance companies are continuing to receive reports of the destruction that Hurricane Laura has caused. Some data estimated that the hurricane caused damages around $8 billion to $12 billion. One of the largest homeowners insurance companies in Louisiana said that over seven thousand claims had been filed already. Another 750 auto claims had also been filed with the same company.
Those who have filed claims may face more storm damage soon. According to recent reports, an area of low pressure has developed off the Southeast coast. This storm could form into a tropical depression during the next day as it travels northeast. If the storm develops into a hurricane, it will become the next named storm in the Atlantic Ocean.
President Donald Trump plans to tour Louisiana’s damage and neighboring Texas on Saturday. He is expected to receive briefings on relief efforts.