Arkansas braces for flash floods from Laura
The governor of Arkansas Thursday evening warned of likely flash flooding as now-Tropical Storm Laura pushed north through the state, and said that more than 50,000 were without power.
Laura, which was a powerful Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph when it made landfall on the southwestern Louisiana coast Thursday morning, has since weakened but still was producing “flooding rainfall” in Arkansas, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved an emergency declaration for all Arkansas counties, which will allow for federal aid, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.
Central and eastern Arkansas could see an additional 3 to 7 inches of rain from the storm, the hurricane center said. Laura is expected to weaken to a tropical depression Thursday night.
The governor warned people to not drive into water, noting that it only takes 6 inches of water to knock someone from their feet.
Helicopter video shows Louisiana flooding, wrecked buildings in wake of Laura
Widespread flooding and wrecked, partially submerged buildings were seen in aerial Coast Guard video as a helicopter passed over a stretch of southwestern Louisiana hard hit after Hurricane Laura swept through the region Thursday.
The video is from a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter that flew along Highway 82 between White Lake and Cameron along Louisiana’s southwest coast. The small community of Cameron is near where Laura made landfall early Thursday as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph at around 1 a.m. local time.
The storm was blamed on at least six deaths in Louisiana, according to officials. Laura has since weakened to a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. But Thursday evening it was still bringing potentially flooding rainfall and powerful winds to parts of Arkansas as it moved north.
Weeks after vote to keep Confederate statue standing, Hurricane Laura brought it down
Storm winds from Hurricane Laura toppled a controversial confederate statue in Lake Charles, Louisiana Thursday morning.
The fate of the South’s Defenders Memorial Monument, which stood on the grounds of the county courthouse, was voted on by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury two weeks ago.
A vote of 10-4 allowed the statue to remain standing, but storm winds caused the statue of a Confederate soldier to fall from its pedestal onto the ground below.
“Well, Laura did one good thing while in town,” wrote Bailey Stark, who posted photos of the fallen statue on Facebook.
The statue has stood in Lake Charles since 1915.
Laura expected to weaken to a tropical depression
Laura, which slammed into the coast of Louisiana early Thursday with winds of 150 miles per hour, has weakened, with forecasters expecting the onetime hurricane to become a tropical depression overnight.
The storm on Thursday afternoon was located about 80 miles northeast of Shreveport, headed north-northeast at 15 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Federal forecasters estimated its maximum sustained winds at 50 mph.
A tropical depression would mean winds have decreased to a maximum of 38 mph.
Tropical storm warnings, which are intended to alert residents of high winds and possible storm surges and flooding, were in effect for northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas, and extreme western Mississippi.
“The center of Laura is forecast to move over Arkansas tonight, the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday, the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday, and over the western Atlantic on Sunday,” the hurricane center said in a bulletin.
At least 6 dead in Louisiana from Hurricane Laura
At least six people have died in Louisiana due to Hurricane Laura.
Four of the victims died from falling trees. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the victims include a 14-year-old girl from Vernon Parish, a 51-year-old man from Jackson Parish, a 64-year-old woman from Allen Parish, and a 68-year-old man from Acadia Parish.
The Calcasieu Parish coroner later confirmed two other deaths: a 24-year-old man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside his home, and a male who drowned after their boat sank.
The death toll was expected to rise as search crews continue to check hard-hit areas.
Fears mount Hurricane Laura could be COVID-19 super-spreader
Texas and Louisiana were still struggling to contain the pandemic as Hurricane Laura bore down on them, and now officials fear a new wave of COVID-19 infections will come in the wake of the massive storm.
But it will take time before they know for sure.
“We’re basically going to be blind for this week because we’ll have to discontinue much of our community-based testing,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said before the hurricane made landfall Thursday along the border of his state and Texas.
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