Updated: August 28, 2020 10:08:24 pm
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.
Aerial views show damage by #HurricaneLaura to a neighborhood outside of Lake Charles, Louisiana. The storm made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border early Thursday as a Category 4 hurricane with a maximum sustained wind speed of 150 mph. https://t.co/7ME8iTQVL7 pic.twitter.com/OmBAdTmtJI
— ABC News (@ABC) August 27, 2020
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.
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.
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 27, 2020
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.”
“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.
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 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.
Now is not the time to let your guard down. #Laura has left hazards like flooded roads, downed power lines and displaced wildlife in our communities that no one should take lightly. Everyone needs to remain vigilant and be safe. #lagov #HurricaneLaura
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) August 28, 2020
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.
My dad sent me some pics of the South’s Defenders monument in Downtown Lake Charles post-Laura and… I think some people may be happy about this. #HurricanLaura #HurricaneLaura2020 #Louisiana #lakecharleslouisiana #LakeCharles pic.twitter.com/dzHd5dSwNH
— Andrew Beam #PrayForLakeCharles (@dancemachine48) August 27, 2020
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.
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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