Hurricane Laura

UCS experts look at the science and risks related to Hurricane Laura.


Hurricane Laura damages home in Lake Charles, LA/FEMA

Did EPA’s Non-Enforcement Policy Cause Lake Charles Chemical Plant Fire As COVID-Climate Disasters Pile Up?

, Senior Climate Justice and Health Scientist

In Westlake Louisiana, near Lake Charles, a chemical manufacturing plant fire last week increased the public health threat environmental justice communities are already facing. The fire released chlorine gas into the air, leading to a ‘stay at home’ order for residents who had not evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Laura. Because of that order, and directions to keep windows and doors closed and not use air conditioners, depending on their situations, people may have been at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection and adverse health effects from the chlorine gas, on top of the danger from Hurricane Laura. Read more >

FEMA
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Thomas Millot/Unsplash

Big, Colliding Problems in Gulf and Elsewhere Need Science-Based Solutions Now

, Economist

Hurricane Laura, one of the most intense hurricanes to hit the Gulf in over a century made landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border early this morning. But even before Laura hit today, 2020 has been a hard year for the Gulf. Many communities along our Southern coast face a multitude of big, colliding environmental and public problems. That includes longstanding ones as well as ones new this year. But regardless of when these problems began or how long they have afflicted the Gulf, they can only be adequately addressed with policies that are firmly grounded in science. Read more >

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Superfund Sites in Path of Hurricane Laura Could Leach Toxic Contaminants

, Research scientist

Hurricane Laura is now predicted to make landfall as a catastrophic Category 4 sometime between Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. The expected extreme storm surge also may affect the containment and continued remediation of multiple Superfund sites in these areas, many of which hold chemicals hazardous to human health. This will present a health risks to individuals who choose not to evacuate immediately, and risks to those who return after the storm has passed. Read more >

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Hurricane Laura Threatens Gulf Coast Energy Infrastructure

, Senior Energy analyst

Hurricane Laura is projected to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane late tonight along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Conditions will be severe, with pockets of rainfall totaling up to 15 inches, storm surge reaching a staggering 15 to 20 feet, and wind speeds topping 140 miles per hour. Evacuation orders have been declared across the region, racing to get people out of immediate harm’s way.

A hurricane, though, is often only the first part of what can become a rapidly widening disaster post-storm. In particular, lasting disruptions to critical infrastructure like electricity can prove another disaster all their own. This is made all the more urgent given that not all residents in the region have the capacity to leave, and all disaster response will be additionally complicated by navigating the challenges simultaneously posed by the ongoing pandemic. Read more >

NOAA
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Tanisha Belvin (left) holds the hand of neighbor and friend “Mama Nita” LaGarde (right), while they are evacuated from the New Orleans Morial Convention Center to the Reliant Center in Houston. LaGarde, Belvin, and Belvin’s grandmother managed to escape the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina without being separated. Eric Gay/AP

Hurricane Laura and the Inequities of Evacuating to Safety

, Climate Vulnerability Social Scientist

For decades—if not longer—people in the United States have found themselves on one side or another of a widening equity chasm. The vast majority of people are on the side of that chasm that is also crumbling beneath our feet, yet somehow the chasm remains invisible in the list of the nation’s priorities. But sometimes there are events that lay our vulnerability so bare, so crystal clear that they serve as clarion calls for change. COVID-19 is that event. Hurricane Laura, forecast to make landfall somewhere along the Texas/Louisiana coast this week as a Category 3 or higher hurricane, could be the next.  Read more >

Eric Gay/AP
Lauren Bauer. 2020. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/05/06/the-covid-19-crisis-has-already-left-too-many-children-hungry-in-america/.
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