Hurricane Laura looks like it could be a repeat of Rita

    Gov. Edwards makes comparison to destructive 2005 storm

    Hurricane Laura
    Laura emerges as a Category 1 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (Image courtesy of NOAA).

    Louisianans should “prepare for the worst and pray for the best,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a Tuesday press conference regarding Hurricane Laura’s approach toward the coastal areas in and around Cameron Parish.

    As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Laura was in the central Gulf of Mexico traveling northwest at about 17 mph. Though still a Category 1, the storm was continuing to build strength and is expected to reach Category 3 status as it strikes Cameron Parish near the Texas border by 1 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

    “Laura is shaping up to look a lot like Rita did 15 years ago,” the governor said.

    Rita, the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Gulf of Mexico, reached Category 5 status but made landfall as a Category 3 storm in Johnson’s Bayou in Cameron Parish. It caused catastrophic damage and loss of life in Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas.

    NWS Meteorologist Ben Schott said Laura is expected to cause “devastating to catastrophic damage” in areas up to 30 miles inland.

    Both Cameron and Calcasieu parishes are under mandatory evacuation orders. Many other coastal and low-lying communities remained under voluntary evacuation orders as of Tuesday evening. See a complete list of evacuation orders in Louisiana.

    The state Department of Transportation and Development has deployed more than 20 coach buses and 40 school buses on standby to assist with evacuations in Southwest Louisiana, DOTD Secretary Shaun Wilson said.

    The governor stressed that residents in those areas should already be evacuating and should not wait to see tomorrow’s forecast to decide whether to leave. It is likely that poor weather will prevent any evacuations by Wednesday afternoon.

    “The weather is going to degrade pretty quickly after lunch tomorrow,” Edwards said.

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    Wesley Muller
    Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.