While Southeast Texas was spared the worst of Hurricane Laura, its powerful eyewall came close to Orange, Texas – a city at the far-eastern edge of the state near the Louisiana border.
Orange County Judge John Gothia sent out emergency management teams Thursday morning to assess the hurricane’s damage. He told Texas Standard that, so far, the damage appears to be mostly fallen trees, downed power lines, blown-in garage doors and shattered windows from winds over 100 mph. Flooding from heavy storm surge, for which Gothia said the city was bracing, did not happen because Laura moved eastward before making landfall.
“It removed us out of the storm-surge area. [During past tropical storms,] that’s typically when we got a lot of our phone calls, is when those houses start flooding,” Gothia said. “But we got very few calls last night and are receiving very few calls today.”
The county will learn more about the damage as residents return.
Gothia said a mere 15 miles east, across the border in Louisiana, impact from the hurricane was more severe. He said as soon as his county has its own cleanup efforts underway, it will send help to its Louisiana neighbors.
“They came to our aid when we needed them, and so we want to be able to return that favor,” Gothia said. “We’re going to push our resources that we have available to us to Louisiana, to help them out.”
Gothia plans to lift Orange County’s evacuation order Thursday afternoon, but urges residents to be careful around hazards like downed power lines and trees when they return to the area.