Hurricane Laura wreaks havoc in the South

Jessie Castellano, Contributing Writer

Emerging as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 26 and making landfall in Louisiana early on Aug. 27, Hurricane Laura has left a path of destruction through the Deep South of the United States. The hurricane arrived on the mainland at 1 a.m. last Thursday, threatening an “unsurvivable” storm surge throughout Louisiana. At the beginning of last week, Laura was projected to be a Category 2 or 3 storm, but its strength rapidly intensified. Wind speeds rose by 65 miles per hour in 24 hours, bringing wind speed to a devastating 150 miles per hour. In its 12-hour assault, Laura destroyed homes, businesses and lives of the residents in Louisiana.

Hurricane Laura is making history as the 10th ever hurricane in the United States to have winds higher than 150 miles per hour and the fourth ever Category 4 storm to hit Louisiana in its history. Most storms weaken before hitting the land, but in recent years three storms have escalated to a higher category before landfall: hurricanes Harvey, Michael, and now Laura.

A storm surge is the swell of seawater caused by a storm. Tropical storms and hurricane-force winds like this one will occur before the storm even hits land. On Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said, “all preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the next few hours.” Starting as early as Wednesday evening, roads were beginning to flood in areas where flooding is not typical. Even Texas residents were to expect tornadoes and torrential downpours as the storm passed over.

Hurricane Laura left immense damage to Lake Charles, a city located in the southwest region of Louisiana. Evacuated residents are now returning home, worried there is not enough support from the federal and state governments to rebuild within a few months. Crews began to excavate fallen trees and have worked on rebuilding power lines, but almost a week later many houses damaged by the storm have still been untouched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has sent hundreds of employees to the area in rescue efforts. As of Sunday, Aug. 30, more than 52,500 people had applied for FEMA assistance.

There is a great deal of worry in these residents as they face the aftermath of this hurricane amid a global pandemic. Although death tolls were relatively low when compared to some other storms, Hurricane Laura left ruins in the south. As of Aug. 31, over 285,000 residents in Louisiana and 65,000 residents in Texas are without electricity, and 120,000 of these citizens reside in the two counties surrounding Lake Charles. So far, there have been 18 deaths reported in Louisiana and Texas, half of which were caused by unsafe carbon monoxide inhalation produced by generators. The United States Department of Labor has announced actions to assist Americans in need and the American Red Cross continues to conduct disaster relief donations to support these people.

In 2005, another major hurricane created mass destruction in the south, Hurricane Katrina. Katrina shook the entirety of America as federal officials did not do enough to help protect from the storm and rebuild in the aftermath. It took over 10 years for many American states to fully recover from this hurricane. Citizens experiencing this hurricane worry that the past will be repeated. It will take time to tell how federal officials respond. If all goes well, these states should be able to eventually rebuild and move forward with the help of federal and state governments.

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