Hurricane Laura demolishes buildings, homes in Louisiana
Hundreds of thousands without power; Casey Stegall reports from Lake Charles, Louisiana.
As the cleanup from Hurricane Laura gets underway in Louisiana, the danger from the storm still exists long after dangerous winds and heavy rain blasted the state.
The Louisiana Department of Health announced Monday that one additional death in the state has been tied to the storm, which made landfall Thursday just south of Lake Charles near Cameron as a Category 4 storm.
Health officials said a 49-year-old man in Rapides Parish died from "blunt force trauma" when a tree he was cutting fell on him.
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A total of 19 deaths in Texas and Louisiana have been attributed to the storm; half were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from the unsafe operation of generators.
Remnants of the half destroyed mobile home of James Towfley, who is living in the standing half, are seen in Lake Charles, La., in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Health officials warn that cleaning up after a big storm is a "big job" that can put individuals at "greater risk of injury"
"Get help lifting heavy or bulky objects. If you lift too much on your own, you could hurt yourself," the health department states. "Try to work with other people, so you aren’t alone."
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Officials advise that during major cleanups to wear the right safety gear, including hard hats, goggles, respirator masks with higher protection levels, heavy work gloves, waterproof boots with steel toe and insole, earplugs or protective headphones if working with noisy equipment, and to have at least two fire extinguishers on hand.
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As of Tuesday morning, some 259,000 customers in Louisiana and 31,000 in eastern Texas are still without power from the storm, according to power outage tracking website poweroutage.us. That's down from 350,000 on Monday.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday warned that residents were in for a long recovery, with 600,000 people either without water or under boil water advisories. Hundreds of thousands still without power have to deal with stifling heat and humidity, adding to the trouble of clearing out debris, patching roofs and starting rebuilding work.
“This is going to be a very difficult storm to recover from,” he said.
Layla Winbush walks over the debris of her family’s destroyed auto detailing business in Lake Charles, La., in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
On Monday, Edwards announced a temporary roofing program operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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Damage assessments were only beginning, but projections from two Boston-based disaster modeling firms — Karen Clark & Co. and AIR Worldwide — indicated insured losses to U.S. properties from Laura could reach $8 billion to $9 billion.
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Crews will have to rebuild hundreds of transmission towers along with resetting downed power poles and lines, clearing debris, and assessing damage, according to the Edison Electric Institute, the association of investor-owned electric companies in the U.S.
More than 29,000 workers from at least 29 states, Washington D.C., and Canada continue to assess the damage and are working to restore power where it's safe to do so, the association said in an email to Fox News. As of Monday night, crews have restored power to nearly 65% of all impacted customers.
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More than 67,000 people in Louisiana have registered for assistance from FEMA so far, according to Edwards' office.
Evacuees from the storm have been spread across Louisiana and Texas, as officials tried to keep people from group shelters because of the coronavirus outbreak.
A fireman looks for a place to cut fallen power lines, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Westlake, La., as cleanup efforts continue following Hurricane Laura moved through the area.
(Kirk Meche/American Press via AP))
In New Orleans, city officials said about 9,200 evacuees were housed across 33 hotels.
“It’s extremely complicated,” Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency preparedness director, told the Associated Press. “You’re dealing with 33 different properties and the amount of personnel required to have people at every property is pretty staggering … We would be congregate sheltering in any other hurricane season without COVID-19 hanging over our heads. We would be in large stadiums, arenas."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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