LAKE CHARLES | Residents of Louisiana and South Texas were preparing to face Hurricane Laura on Wednesday, reinforced in category 4 on a scale of 5, and considered by meteorologists to be “extremely dangerous”.
Carrying winds blowing up to 230 km / h, it could cause a rise in water “fatal” and potentially “catastrophic”, extreme winds, as well as “flash floods”, warns the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Laura could make landfall Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning.
“Hurricane Laura is very dangerous and is intensifying rapidly. Listen to local officials. We are with you! ”Tweeted President Donald Trump.
The eye of the hurricane was at 5 p.m. 250 km south of the coastal town of Lake Charles, Louisiana, known for its major oil refining centers. Its inhabitants boarded buses after receiving a mandatory evacuation order due to the risk of flooding.
“We thought we would try to overcome it at home, but we heard that it was going to be too powerful,” Jimmy Ray told AFP, carrying several bags on his shoulders.
Another Lake Charles resident, Patricia Como, explained that family members decided to stay, but that she personally would not take the risk.
“I’m not going to play this with the Good Lord,” she said.
Evacuation manager Angela Jouett said new protocols had to be put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
15 years after Katrina
“You only have a few hours to prepare and evacuate,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned on Twitter on Wednesday.
His state remains traumatized by Katrina, a hurricane of category 5, the highest, which had flooded 80% of the city of New Orleans and left a thousand dead, almost 15 years ago to the day.
In the Old French Square, the historic center of New Orleans emptied of tourists, sandbags were piled up in front of the doorsteps, and the windows of buildings of colonial architecture were protected by plywood panels.
Those who survived Katrina remember that “you just can’t know” what to expect, warns town resident Sonya McCuller.
“One minute you may think it’s not going to happen and the next minute you try to prepare yourself to make sure you don’t get stuck in it.” It’s crazy”.
In neighboring Texas, already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor urged residents to take shelter. “Your belongings can be replaced, not your life,” he warned the Weather Channel.
In the town of La Porte, near Houston, residents were making sure they had what it takes to weather the storm.
“I’m a little stressed, but I also tell myself that I will be safe in my apartment,” Matthew Jones, 28, told AFP. “I have bread, salami, peanut butter, jam, water and snacks.”
In Galveston, the site of a historic hurricane in 1900 that killed between 8,000 and 12,000 people, evacuation operations intensified and the school district canceled classes until Friday.
The neighboring town of Crystal Beach seemed deserted: few cars on the roads, the few residents still outside hurrying to fill up the last tank or put up their windows.
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.