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Hurricane Laura: At least 6 killed in ‘Category 4’ hurricane; Trump to survey damage in Louisiana, Texas

Hurricane Laura: Areas along the Louisiana-Texas border bore the brunt of the storm after it made landfall near a small town in Louisiana, called Cameron, early on Thursday morning.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 28, 2020 10:08:24 pm
Hurricane Laura, Laura, Louisiana coast, Hurricane Laura texas, Hurrican USBefore Laura struck, local governments and residents took the right steps and got out of harm's way for the most part, a veteran New Orleans disaster expert said. (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool)

Hurricane Laura latest updates: A day after Hurricane Laura swept ashore and ripped through Louisiana, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, the catastrophic ‘category 4’ storm weakened into a tropical depression on Friday. So far, the hurricane — one of the most powerful storms in US history — has claimed at least six lives and has left homes and buildings in ruins, CNN reported. 

According to the US state’s Health Department, the death toll from the hurricane includes a 14-year-old girl and a 68-year-old man, who were crushed under fallen trees. All six victims were from different parts of Louisiana — including Calcasieu, Acadia, Allen, Jackson and Vernon Parishes, a department spokesperson told CNN. 

Areas along the Louisiana-Texas border bore the brunt of the storm after it made landfall near a small town in Louisiana, called Cameron, early on Thursday morning. The city of Lake Charles, which has an estimated population of around 78,000 people, was one of the worst-hit by the hurricane. 

Sustained winds of upto 150 mph, accompanied with lashing rain battered the streets of Lake Charles overnight — uprooting electric poles and trees, and tearing off the roofs of homes and buildings across the city. Many residents returned to their neighbourhoods once the storm had subsided, only to find rubble where their houses once stood. 

Here are the top updates from Hurricane Laura

Lake Charles chemical plant on fire in wake of Hurricane Laura

A chemical plant in Lake Charles caught fire hours after Hurricane Lara made landfall on Thursday. The Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards urged residents in nearby areas to remain indoors with their doors and windows shut to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes released by the plant, Reuters reported. 

Hurricane Laura, Louisiana coast, Hurricane Laura death toll, US hurricane, Texas, Trump Hurricane Laura, world news A church shows damage caused by Hurricane Laura, Thursday, in Lake Charles, La. (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool)

Photographs shared on social media show a mammoth cloud of toxic fumes rising from the BioLab-owned chemical plant, which previously manufactured a host of chlorine-based products.

According to a report by the Washington Post, the fire was triggered when an undefined amount of chlorine started to decompose during the storm, which in turn generated heat. Louisiana State Police Superintendent Kevin W. Reeves said that a small crew from BioLab first tried to extinguish the fire, before calling state authorities for support. 

First responders immediately rushed to the site to quell the flames. 

President Trump to visit Texas and Louisiana to survey storm damage

During a press conference Thursday, US President Donald Trump announced that he plans to travel to Texas and Louisiana this weekend, to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Laura. Trump also said that he was planning to postpone his speech at the Republican National Convention due to the hurricane, CNN reported. 

“I was actually prepared to postpone the speech tonight and make it Monday,” he said during a press briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s national headquarters. “I was going to Texas, I was going to Louisiana, maybe Arkansas.”

Hurricane Laura, Louisiana coast, Hurricane Laura death toll, US hurricane, Texas, Trump Hurricane Laura, world news A girl wades towards her flooded home the day after the passing of Tropical Storm Laura in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

“But now it turned out we got a little bit lucky. It was very big, it was very powerful but it passed quickly. And so everything is going to be on schedule,” he added.

Trump officially accepted the Republican Party’s re-nomination at the RNC 2020 Thursday, and virtually addressed the American voters from the White House South Lawn. 

Hurricane laura, Laura, Hurricane Laura louisiana Buildings show damage from Hurricane Laura, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Cameron, La. (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool)

Over 875,000 people without power; water service out in most of Lake Charles

Power outages were reported across the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. More than 875,000 were left without electricity after the power lines were snapped and electric poles were uprooted due to strong winds and lashing rain, AP reported.

Meanwhile, in Lake Charles most residents did not having running water, according to a CNN report. “We’ve got some plants that are open, but it’s not enough to serve the entire city. The pressure is in the single digits,” City Administrator John Cardone told CNN.

Cardone said that water spooky is expected to return to at least 45% capacity by Friday. Engineering consultants arrived in the city yesterday, to help fix the system. 

Hurricane Laura, Louisiana coast, Hurricane Laura death toll, US hurricane, Texas, Trump Hurricane Laura, world news Hurricane Laura: This Jan. 25, 2020, satellite photo provided by Maxar Technologies shows Grand Lake High School and nearby homes south of Lake Charles, La., before Hurricane Laura. (Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies via AP)

Hurricane Laura caused less mayhem then predicted, say state officials

Despite Hurricane Laura killing six and causing irreversible damage to property across the state, Louisiana authorities heaved a sigh of relief Friday after the deadly storm caused less damage than earlier anticipated. 

“It is clear that we did not sustain and suffer the absolute, catastrophic damage that we thought was likely,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said, according to a report by AP. “But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage.”

The Governor said that Laura was the strongest hurricane to ever strike the state of Louisiana. A full assessment of the losses incurred by the storm will take days to prepare, AP reported. 

Controversial confederate statue in Louisiana torn down by hurricane

Months after city authorities rejected demands by Black Lives Matter protestors to remove a controversial confederate monument from Lake Charles, the statue was torn down by fierce winds as Hurricane Laura ravaged the state of Louisiana. 

Local officials decided to keep the South’s Defenders Memorial Monument, which honours fallen confederate soldiers, two weeks ago, despite the anti-racism protestors’ demands. The statue was built outside the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse. 

Search and rescue operations underway, says Governor

Search and rescue teams were deployed in the state Thursday to evacuate people in vulnerable areas, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. Evacuees were brought to shelters like motels and hotel rooms to escape the worst of the storm, according to a New York Times report. 

Hurricane Laura, Louisiana coast, Hurricane Laura death toll, US hurricane, Texas, Trump Hurricane Laura, world news Hurrican Laura: This aerial photo shows a chemical plant fire in Westlake, La., near Lake Charles, following Hurricane Laura, Thursday. (AP)

“Today is about saving lives, moving people out of their homes,” Governor Edwards said. He added that there was a high risk involved in escaping a hurricane in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The death toll could rise as rescue teams continue to clear debris in the coming days, authorities have warned. Several US states, including New Jersey and Arizona, deployed search and rescue teams to assist Louisiana during the hurricane. 

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