Hurricane Laura prompts evacuations and regulation waivers in Texas and Louisiana

August 25, 2020

Tyson Fisher

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Although Tropical Storm Marco came to a sudden halt before making landfall, Hurricane Laura is poised to reach Category 3 status when it reaches Louisiana and Texas, likely causing major disruptions.

Two storms are making their way through the Gulf of Mexico, both on track toward Texas and Louisiana. Tropical Storm Marco was on pace to make landfall near the two states. However, the storm slowed down significantly and downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday morning.

Marco’s dissipation provides some relief to the region as Hurricane Laura moves toward the area directly behind it. As of Tuesday morning, Laura reached Category 1 status with sustained winds of 75 mph. Forecasts project Hurricane Laura will reach Category 3 status by 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26, just as it reaches land between Texas and Louisiana.

Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

Hurricane Laura forecast

On Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a regional emergency declaration. That declaration affects freight for emergency relief in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For details, click here.

Evacuation lanes set up in Texas ahead of Hurricane Laura

On Aug. 23, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for nearly two dozen Texas counties. On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and President Donald Trump granted the state’s federal emergency declaration request. Abbott activated more than 70 members of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and Texas State Guard.

The following evacuation orders are in place as of Tuesday morning:

  • Chambers County (voluntary).
  • Galveston County (mandatory).
  • Harris County city of Nassau Bay (voluntary).
  • Harris County city of Seabrook (voluntary).
  • Jefferson County (mandatory).
  • Jefferson County city of Port Arthur (mandatory).
  • Orange County (mandatory).

The evacuation orders affect nearly 400,000 Texans. On Monday night, Texas Department of Transportation crews began setting up evacuation lanes ahead of Hurricane Laura. For a full list of evacuation routes, click here.

Louisiana braces for Hurricane Laura

On Aug. 21, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency as both storms were expected to hit Louisiana. The declaration is in effect until Sept. 20 unless terminated sooner. Two days later President Trump approved of the governor’s request for federal assistance.

“We’ve never seen two hurricanes hitting the same state back to back within 48 hours, as is anticipated in the coming days in Louisiana,” Edwards said in a statement. “At the same time, we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes the prospect of evacuations, search and rescue and mass sheltering complicated and difficult. We will work alongside our federal and local partners to manage this unique and challenging group of disasters.”

Louisiana Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn D. Wilson issued a separate state of emergency on Monday. That declaration suspends state size and weight restrictions for commercial vehicles providing for relief efforts. Tolls on the LA 1 Toll Bridge from Leeville to Grand Isle and Port Fourchon have also been suspended.

The following mandatory evacuation orders are in place due to Hurricane Laura:

  • Cameron Parish.
  • Jefferson Parish.
  • Lafourche Parish.
  • Plaquemines Parish.
  • Terrebonne Parish.

For a list of evacuation routes in Louisiana, click here.

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.