Fast facts about Hurricane Laura:
– More than 500,000 people in Texas and Louisiana have been asked to evacuate.
– Current forecasts show landfall could occur at Lake Charles, Louisiana.
– Laura is a Category 3 storm as of Wednesday morning, but is expected to grow to a Category 4 storm before Iandfall, then should rapidly weaken over land.
– Expect “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding,” according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Laura is headed toward the Gulf Coast where it’s expected to make landfall late Wednesday night or early Thursday.
The city of Galveston has been preparing. And even though current forecasts show the storm will likely land farther east in Louisiana, the island city would be on the outer edge of the storm’s path, and could experience heavy wind, rain and storm surge .
Galveston Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown told Texas Standard that his city evacuated residents, including many by bus, to mainland hotels, as well as to to Austin. (KUT recently reported that available hotel rooms in Austin are already full with evacuees.) Brown said evacuations have been tricky because of the pandemic, making sure people on buses and in hotels are able to practice social distancing.
“We had to have far more buses than normal … and then providing housing on the mainland, we had to have enough housing where we could put one person per room,” Brown said. “[COVID-19] has caused a lot more on the logistics to make sure that we keep these people safe.”
Current forecasts show Hurricane Laura is not expected to hit Galveston directly. But the storm could turn at the last minute. If it does move westward, it could devastate the island, Brown said. He doesn’t want residents to be complacent, especially those who’ve lived through hurricanes before.
“This is different; this has a feel of Hurricane Ike,” Brown said. “Hurricane Ike was devastating to our community here, and followed a path that was
similar to [Laura’s] path.”