Here on the Gulf Coast of the United States, anytime the weatherman says that a storm is going to enter the Gulf – we start sitting Shiva. Literally we are brought low anytime we see tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane in SE Texas, especially in the
months of August and September. Laura was not initially forecastedto come this far into the Gulf of Mexico. First, it was supposed to impact Florida, then Alabama, then Louisiana, then Texas. In the end, she decided to split the difference and hit between Texas and Louisiana. There is a bridge you cross over Interstate 10 leaving Orange, Texas, and halfway across that bridge you realize at the bottom of the bridge you will no longer be in Texas. I have taken that route too many times to count. Drive 39 miles and you are in Lake Charles, bypassing smaller towns such as Starks, Vinton, Sulphur, and Westlake along the I-10 east corridor. I have also taken the back route through Port Arthur into Cameron, making trips to Holly Beach, and enjoying the day. However,
Laura came in as a Category 4 storm destroying as much as possible in her path. In Texas, the wind damage was noticeable, 300,000+ households were without electricity, evacuation orders are still in place as of right now in some cities. Many sick and at least 5 dead in the area from improperly using generators, and some areas are still
impassable. Electricity, internet, and phone service has been spotty, but it could have been much worse. As I said, Laura was unpredictable from the word GO. My hometown, 60 miles west of Lake Charles was on course to get a hurting from Laura – far worse than what we received. The storm was on the same path as Hurricane Rita that hit the area in 2005. Rita hit us a month after Katrina devastated the Mississippi
and New Orleans areas, we were using Ford Park Entertainment Complex as a shelter for evacuees when we were ordered to leave ourselves. Rita created one of the largest evacuations in US history because Houston, Texas was called to evacuate as well. We
spent 36 hours in traffic! With Laura following that same path, no one knew what to expect and with 2 storms in the last 3 years that caused so much flooding and dread, a lot of people were “storm weary” and decided to hunker down. I was one of those people who decided I would stay and “ride out the storm,” but when I got up on Wednesday morning and saw that the storm intensified and may do so even further…we waved goodbye to our home and prayed it would still be here when we returned.
We made it all the way to Austin in an exhausted, almost fugue state, checked into our hotel, showered, and tuned into our local news KFDM Channel 6 who always does live coverage during storms to keep those who evacuated and those at home informed throughout the storm. If Laura would have stayed on her NNW direction, it would have
been 2005 all over again, 15 years later, but at the last minute – Laura took a northerly turn. That northerly turn is what caused so much damage in Orange, Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana and further. That is just on I-10, you have the damage to Cameron Parrish and the city of Cameron, as well as further inland into Louisiana. Lake Charles’
devastation is heartbreaking to see. I heard a news report about a tree falling on a house and killing a 14-year-old girl. Her sister frantically called her name and tried to find her and once she did, she realized why she could not answer. These cities are a part of me. I still have a lot of family that live in Orange and “across the bridge” as we say in Lake Charles and surrounding areas. My roots run deep through these communities, so to see them shattered is a hurtful thing.
The day after the storm there was an explosion at a chemical lab that released a toxin into the air. So now you are forced to stay inside your home within a certain area of the plant, no electricity, if your
windows are open for some kind of airflow you are still getting the toxin…what do you do? The President visited the area today to survey the damage in Louisiana and in Texas and refused to say that these extreme storms were a result of climate change. His response was that the area has always been prone to strong storms. That very well may
be true, but they would lose intensity quickly. Laura made it to almost northern Louisiana still a hurricane. However, in my 37 yearsof living in the area, I never had to evacuate until 2005. I had twin classmates that were born in the middle of a hurricane when you weren’t “evacuating entire counties. His Mar-a-Lago estate is right near the coastal waters of Florida and I guarantee you, a hurricane could not care less that he is who he is. I think the President and I will have to agree to disagree, or we can just disagree on this one. I know that water temperatures are much warmer, earlier in the year, causing the June 1 start date for hurricane season to almost become moot and as a result, storms have begun to appear before then. These storms see no political affiliation and they do not discriminate. They do not care if you are black, white, purple, rich, poor, doctor, or work at McDonald’s, whatever you have belongs to it; if it is in its path. Unless we get a cool snap that dramatically affects the water temperature in the Gulf, we have 32 more days of watching, waiting, and praying that nothing comes this way again. We were blessed and slightly inconvenienced this time, but just as Laura was unpredictable, the season is just as shifty as she was.
Thank you Beaumont Channel 6 KFDM for always staying when we need you!!kfdm.com