LAKE CHARLES, La. (KLFY) — Friday marked the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Laura making landfall, and while scars the strong category 4 left on Lake Charles were supposed to be today’s focus, the latest Gulf storm loomed over it all.
Officials reminded everyone what’s been done for the 2020 hurricane recovery and what still needs to be done, but ultimately, the storm approaching just days from now did steal the show at the Governor’s press conference.
“I want to finish by telling you something I didn’t want to do today, and that is to tell you to be prepared,” transitioned Governor John Bel Edwards toward the end of his remarks Thursday.
At 10 a.m., the National Weather Service did not bring good news to him and the rest of Louisiana. Another potential hurricane is heading toward the state, and the cone of uncertainty was between Louisiana’s borders with Texas and Mississippi.
“The Gulf is absolutely ripe in terms of the conditions for rapid intensification for this storm,” Edwards warned.” Currently, the most likely track would be right for a center strike in the Lafayette area.”
One area that cannot afford another powerful storm is Lake Charles. Hundreds of homes are destroyed, and even more roofs are still tarped from Hurricane Laura.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell stated, “Destruction that we saw from this combined with the impacts that we saw from Hurricane Delta in addition to the May flooding and the ice storm are really unprecedented.”
Criswell added the agency has removed enough debris to fill Superdome 6 times, and they’ve assisted 63,000 survivors with costs, rentals, and essential needs replacement.
FEMA has already made $1.3 billion available for last year’s hurricane recovery. Another $236 million have been awarded to the state through the hazard mitigation grant program, according to Governor Edwards.
However, local leaders have identified $3 billion in unmet needs. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter used the stage to ask for further assistance.
“We have come a long way in this country in the way that we respond to the immediate needs of a natural disaster, but as we stand here a year later, the real need for improvement is with the long-term recovery,” Hunter stated.
The populace of Lake Charles is hoping it’s not forgotten, or worse, given another reason to be remembered with another possibly catastrophic storm heading Louisiana’s way.
“This is one of those that can go from tropical storm to a major storm meaning category three or higher very, very quickly, and we don’t have the five or six-day window that we typically have to be prepared,” Governor Edwards urged. “Everybody from this point forward needs to be taking this extremely seriously, and get prepared, and be ready to leave if you’re asked to leave.”
He also added it is too early at this point to know if there will be evacuation orders, where they will be, or they will be mandatory or voluntary.