President Trump on Saturday toured damage from Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Orange, Texas – two of the hardest-hit areas. Mr. Trump vowed assistance for both cities, saying in Texas that “we’ve never seen anything like” the force of the storm.
Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm, but was less powerful than Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm in 2017. Maria resulted in 2,975 deaths, the highest death toll from a hurricane in a century.
Mr. Trump’s visit comes two days after the Laura smashed into the Gulf Coast in Louisiana near the Texas border. At least 12 people died in Louisiana due to the storm and at least four died in Texas, most as a result of trees falling on homes or carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.
Mr. Trump said Saturday while in Texas that FEMA would deliver 400,000 liters of water and 200,000 meals. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that he has declared a disaster in 62 counties and their priorities are “power, water, evacuees, assessment.”
In Lake Charles, Mr. Trump assured elected officials and residents “we have to take care” of Louisiana and Texas. He said Laura was stronger than Hurricane Katrina, the costliest hurricane in history. While the intensity of Laura may have been greater, Katrina’s record storm surge overwhelmed New Orleans’ levees and other flood control measures and eventually submerged 80% of the city, leading to over 1,800 deaths and over $160 billion in damage, according to NPR.
Residents are now returning home and confronting the possibility that basic services may not return for weeks – or longer.
The mayor of Lake Charles warns it could be weeks before water service is restored. Electricity is also out and it could take crews weeks to put up new poles and restring power lines.
Laura was the seventh named storm to strike the U.S. this year, setting a new record for U.S. landfalls by the end of August. It hit the U.S. after killing nearly two dozen people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
More than 580,000 coastal residents has been put under evacuation orders as the hurricane gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico.