Officials in east Texas and western Louisiana ordered around 500,000 people to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura’s landfall later this week.
“Today is the day. The weather is still nice here in Galveston. This is the day for everybody to get their belongs together and, for the safety of themselves and their family, to go ahead and evacuate today. Do not wait,” Galveston, Texas, Mayor Craig Brown told The Weather Channel. Galveston issued a mandatory evacuation order on Tuesday.
The Texas cities of Port Arthur and Beaumont were also evacuated, encompassing around 385,000 people, reported The Associated Press.
Officials in Louisiana also evacuated about 125,000 people in western Louisiana, according to the Weather Channel.
“Frankly there’s not that many places for people to go to,” Dick Gremillion, director of homeland security and emergency preparedness in Louisiana’s Calcasieu Parish, told the news outlet. “In our traditional shelters, we’ve lost two-thirds of capacity. It has been a difficult time rolling COVID into hurricane preparations.”
The National Hurricane Center said that Laura is currently a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds, but it warned that the storm could quickly strengthen. It is expected to make landfall early on Thursday morning.
“A storm surge warning is in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas to the mouth of the Mississippi River, including areas inside the Port Arthur Hurricane Flood Protection system,” the agency said. “A hurricane warning is in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Sargent, Texas, to San Luis Pass and from east of Intracoastal City to the mouth of the Mississippi River.”