Lake Charles, Louisiana, August 29th, 2020–Fourteen people are now confirmed dead in the United States after Hurricane Laura battered southern states.
Ten of the victims were in Louisiana and four in Texas.
Winds of up to 150mph (240km/h) caused severe damage, with power cuts to more than half a million homes and a chemical fire from an industrial plant.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has asked the federal government for immediate financial assistance in dealing with the fallout.
President Donald Trump traveled to the two states on Saturday to meet with people affected by the hurricane and inspect the damage. Trump said that the damage will be repaired as soon as possible.
The Twitter video below gives some idea of the power of the storm at its peak.
1:23 am. Whistling. Explosions. #Hurricane #LAURA in Sulphur #Louisiana pic.twitter.com/7kU3DZjhyn
— Josh Morgerman (@iCyclone) August 27, 2020
President Donald Trump traveled to the two states on Saturday to “meet with people affected by the hurricane” and inspect the damage. Trump said that the damage will be repaired as soon as possible.
During the slightly more than two hours he spent in the city, Trump met with officials and relief workers but not with any of the residents whose homes had been ripped apart in the storm.
He got a good look at the extensive damage and the debris strewn across the city of 80,000 people, beginning with a bird’s-eye view from Air Force One as it flew in for landing.
Trump then toured a neighborhood with Gov. John Bel Edwards and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, making his way along a street blocked by felled trees and damaged houses, one with its entire roof torn off.
The president said Louisiana had “been through a lot” between the deadly hurricane and its covid-19 outbreak. “You’ve done a great job,” he told Edwards, a Democrat.
Edwards said he has asked President Trump to declare a federal disaster for 23 parishes in Louisiana.
“Hurricane Laura is the fifth strongest storm to make landfall in the United States in recorded history and the first in memory to maintain major hurricane strength as it travelled through Louisiana, bringing catastrophic destruction to many parishes,” Mr Edwards said in a statement.
Speaking at a press conference, he called Laura “the strongest storm to ever hit Louisiana”.
Of the 10 people to lose their lives in the state, five died from carbon monoxide poisoning from gas-powered emergency generators, four from trees falling and one who drowned.
In Texas, a man was killed when a tree hit his home, and three people lost their lives in Port Arthur, possibly from carbon monoxide poisoning, officials reported.
Around 8,000 homes were possibly destroyed in the two states, according to the Red Cross.
Nic Hunter, mayor of one of the hardest hit areas – Lake Charles in Louisiana – said it was unclear when electricity and water supplies would be restored.
“If you come back to Lake Charles to stay, make sure you understand the above reality and are prepared to live in it for many days, probably weeks,” he wrote on Facebook.
There was more structural damage from winds than anticipated, but the water damage was less than feared.
Some 1,500 people, including National Guard troops, are being deployed in rescue and clean-up missions.
In Haiti, which was earlier badly hit by storms Marco and Laura, at least 31 people are now reported to have died and eight people are missing, the country’s civil protection service said. More than 6,000 homes were flooded in the country.
Four people are known to have died in neighboring Dominican Republic.
Cuba suffered damage but did not record any deaths.
In Jamaica, there were reports of landslides and flooded roads.
The US territory of Puerto Rico was also hit, with President Trump declaring a state of disaster last Saturday.