Lake Charles | Hurricane Laura, one of the most violent to hit the US state of Louisiana, has killed at least 14 people in the southern United States, but less damage than feared.
“We can be largely relieved”, reacted at a press conference the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, stressing that his state had escaped the announced “catastrophic devastation”.
“But we have suffered a huge amount of damage,” he added, mentioning the thousands of residents “living in turmoil”.
Passing through the Caribbean Sea, Laura caused major flooding almost a week ago in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola (or Quisqueya). She killed at least 31 people in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic.
Downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday afternoon, Laura then strengthened before making landfall in the United States in a Category 4 hurricane (of 5) Thursday around 1 a.m. local (6 a.m. GMT) at the coastal town of Cameron. , near the Texas border in the Gulf of Mexico, with sustained winds of 240 km / h, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
This makes it the most powerful hurricane to hit Louisiana in more than a century and a half, according to data compiled by University of Colorado hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach.
Once the day had broken in the region, the first images showed the usual scenes of desolation: trees and power lines on the ground, collapsed buildings, torn roofs, streets flooded or covered with debris …
The hurricane claimed at least ten lives in Louisiana and four in neighboring Texas, with eight of those 14 deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning emitted by portable generators turned on indoors due to blackouts.
In Louisiana, four people were also killed by falling trees on their homes and one drowned after her boat was washed away in the cyclone.
Nearly 800,000 people were without electricity Thursday afternoon in Louisiana and Texas, according to the PowerOutage.us site.
The shattered windows of a large building bore witness to the violent winds in Lake Charles, a town in Louisiana known for its oil refineries, the region’s main economic resource.
A fire broke out there in a chemical factory, from which an imposing plume of smoke rose above the water, forcing residents to seal themselves in their homes.
Downgraded to Tropical Storm
Meteorologists have warned of flooding in northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas.
President Donald Trump has announced that he will visit Texas and Louisiana “Saturday or Sunday”.
Fifteen years almost to the day after Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and left its mark on Louisiana, local authorities called on the population to be extremely careful.
Texas State Governor Greg Abbott said Thursday that the rise in water levels had not been “as severe as initially expected” and that ordered evacuations in coastal areas had probably saved many lives. .
More than 1.5 million people in total were under evacuation orders in Louisiana and Texas, one of the U.S. states worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
New protocols have also had to be put in place in emergency accommodation centers in order to be able to enforce physical distancing as much as possible.
The hurricane season in the Atlantic, which officially lasts from June 1 to November 30, promises to be particularly intense this year. The National Hurricane Center expects 25 lows. Laura is already the twelfth.