Recovering From Hurricane Laura
On the morning of Aug. 27, Hurricane Laura came ashore on the Louisiana coast just 30 miles east of the Texas border. Originally a category four hurricane, Hurricane Laura was downgraded to a tropical storm that afternoon as it headed towards Arkansas. Following the events, the Louisiana governor reported 11,000 people displaced and sheltering in Texas.
As if the destruction from the hurricane wasn’t bad enough, these people are also struggling to social distance as they found a place to stay. Some of the shelters in Texas are taking in displaced people, but there is fear that they may develop into hotspots for the Corona Virus.
Many of these shelters are managed by the American Red Cross. The Red Cross says it is adhering to social distancing guidelines and is limiting the number of people allowed into the shelters. This could reduce shelter capacities by 60%.
Many evacuees are frustrated that they are driving hours to shelters only to be turned away because there is not enough space. Not as many people are being crammed into shelters in order to control the spread of Covid-19, but there has not been a great enough increase in the number of shelters to hold all the evacuees.
Local and state officials in Texas are trying to place people in a way that will slow the spread by using reception centers. These reception centers process evacuees and get them vouchers to sleep in nearby hotels. Hotels are seen as ideal shelters because they are able to keep people separated in different rooms.
The hurricane clean up effort has been especially difficult in the over 100 degree heat areas with little to no water available. There are electrical lines and trees blocking the roads. The absence of stop lights makes it dangerous to move around in the areas affected by the hurricane.
Thirty-one chemical and oil spills have been reported to the federal government according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of the chemical spills resulted in chemical fires.
Massive swarms of mosquitoes have been popping due to standing water left behind from the hurricane and are reportedly killing cattle. These mosquitoes could also potentially pose a threat to people in the area.
Schools in the hurricane’s target zone were closed prior to the hurricane’s arrival on land. Hurricane Laura has now set schools back even farther than they were already because of the pandemic.
People choosing or being forced to remain in their houses have had to survive without power, clean running water, and in some cases, food. Some people have reportedly died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by unsafe use of generators.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, more commonly known as FEMA, is the country’s response team to major disasters declared by the President. However, FEMA is dealing with other problems too.
Due to recent FEMA budget cuts, job vacancies, and the year’s fill of natural disasters, from fires in California to storms in Iowa, FEMA has been stretched thin. Even so, FEMA is a good place for hurricane victims to go to for assistance. They offer grants for temporary housing, home repairs, and assistance for other things, such as medical or child care assistance.
Louisiana is not in the clear yet, as Tropical Storm Sally is currently expected to make landfall as a hurricane near New Orleans in the coming days.