Amidst an Already Complicated Situation, Hurricane Laura Hits the Gulf Coast

Hurricane Laura BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of bostonglobe.com

The year 2020 has become the picture closest to that of the end of the world prophecies. It began with Donald J. Trump’s acquittal in the Congressional impeachment process, followed by the worst pandemic in over a century, an economic crisis, and now a storm threatening several parts of the country.

The now-named Hurricane Laura is considered one of the most powerful storms to hit the United States in decades, and it passed through Louisiana northbound last Thursday morning, still with hurricane force, 170 miles inland, according to The Guardian.

Since Wednesday night, Laura has threatened with blasts of up to 150 mph, causing “catastrophic conditions,” the National Hurricane Center announced.

According to The Washington Post, Laura took on “fierce intensity” as she crossed the Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters and headed hard for the great Texas-Louisiana strip, with what authorities have described as “unsurpassed flooding” and catastrophic winds.

After becoming a category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon, residents of Lake Charles and Port Arthur, Texas, were evacuated. The National Weather Service predicted high tide, warning of a “potentially historic” storm surge that could push dangerous waves inland as far as 40 miles.

However, not everyone was evacuated, and the Louisiana governor’s office recorded four deaths caused by falling trees. 

As the Guardian continued, the storm’s northern eye moved over Cameron Parish on the Louisiana coast at 1 am ET, before crashing into the town of Lake Charles.

Authorities had ordered coastal residents to leave, but not everyone did so in an area devastated by Hurricane Rita in 2005. More than 450,000 homes were left without power in Texas and Louisiana on Thursday morning.

The storm’s impact is also expected to exacerbate the consequences of pollution and “climate injustice” in the region, according to Climate Power 2020, an independently run Project created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the League of Conservation voters, and the Sierra Club.

“There are 109 superfund sites along Laura’s path, which means this climate change-driven disaster could have catastrophic consequences for the health of communities, primarily African American, Latino, low-income, and frontline neighborhoods,” the project explained in a statement.

Known for being “heavily contaminated former industrial zones,” once removed by high winds and flooding, communities are exposed to industrial chemicals, carcinogens, and toxins.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is rebounding in the region, and thanks to the Trump administration’s reversal of the “chemical disaster rule” that established requirements for chemical plants to plan for such emergencies, the most vulnerable communities will be the ones hardest hit by this new natural disaster.