THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Hurricane Laura has been upgraded to a category 4 hurricane as it heads towards the coast of Louisiana and southeast Texas. The storm is projected to make landfall near the border of Texas and Louisiana Thursday morning.
Experts are warning locals to evacuate the area, projecting that Laura will create an “unsurvivable storm surge,” according to the National Hurricane Center. Climate scientists Eric Holthaus stated on Twitter, “I’m running out of words. Hurricane Laura is now one of the fastest-intensifying storms in recorded history in the Gulf of Mexico,” adding that he believes this hurricane will “alter history for this part of the Gulf Coast.” More than 385,000 Texas residents and an additional 200,000 in southern Louisiana have been evacuated as many cities in Laura’s path have issued evacuation orders.
While Hurricane Laura inches toward the Gulf states, many residents in the region have spoken out about their fears about sheltering from a hurricane during the coronavirus pandemic. Black, Latino and minority residents who represent the most susceptible demographic to the coronavirus are refusing to evacuate some towns in Texas and Louisiana. Officials are urging evacuees to self-isolate in hotels if possible to avoid crowded evacuation centers that experts fear could become superspreader locations.
The Texas state government will provide masks and COVID-19 tests at its shelter locations. Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated that “several things are being done as we assist those who are evacuating that’s different from what has been done in the past,” noting that coronavirus is presenting new challenges for governments in areas vulnerable to hurricanes.
Laura Threatens to Be Worst Storm in 160 Years: Hurricane Update – Bloomberg – 8/26/2020
More than 3,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard are ready to provide support by land, water and air, strategically positioning 222 high water vehicles and 65 boats from southeastern Louisiana to southwestern Louisiana to provide search and rescue support. The Guard also has 19 Army aircraft prepared to assist.
Hurricane Laura evacuees to shelter in Texas hotels amid COVID-19 pandemic – USA Today – 8/26/2020
The state, still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, kicked preparations into high gear Tuesday as Laura barreled toward the coast around the Texas-Louisiana border, growing in strength before likely becoming a major hurricane. The Austin-American Statesman, which is a part of the USA TODAY Network, reported this story.
Hurricane Laura spotted from International Space Station – Fox News – 8/26/2020
The storm is already responsible for the deaths of at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where it knocked out power and caused flooding in the two nations that share the island of Hispaniola. The deaths reportedly included a 10-year-old girl whose home was hit by a tree and a mother and young son who were crushed by a collapsing wall.
As Hurricane Laura heads for Southeast Texas, officials scramble to evacuate and shelter people during a pandemic – The Texas Tribune – 8/26/2020
“Due to exceeded demand for safe sheltering options from Hurricane Laura, Austin Area shelters hit capacity around 5:30 a.m. this morning,” the city said in a press release. “Those seeking shelter from this weather event are welcome to wait at COTA to see when more hotel rooms become available. Once confirmed, shelter rooms will be on a first come first served.”