Debris is piled up near Lake Charles City Hall on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (Photo by Wes Muller/LA Illuminator).
After two hurricanes in three months, a winter storm and heavy flooding, Lake Charles is now recovering from a tornado.
“That’s enough to test anybody,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a Thursday press conference in Lake Charles. “My heart breaks anytime we see this sort of damage anywhere, but particularly here in southwest Louisiana with everything that’s going on. They didn’t need this.”
The tornado struck Monday afternoon south of Lake Charles, with winds speeds up to 130 miles per hour. Two people received minor injuries, one hit by flying debris and another hurt when her window was blown into her house.
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Around a dozen homes were significantly damaged, with minor damage to several more, officials say. Since the scope of damage was fairly small, no major disaster declaration is likely to be issued. People are encouraged to report damages at damage.la.gov.
Hurricane Laura landed as a Category 4 in August 2020, causing millions in damages and killing almost 30 people. It was one of the strongest hurricanes to hit in more than 150 years and displaced thousands of families, devastating Lake Charles. The Lake Charles area was hit again by Hurricane Delta in October 2020, flooding streets and undoing recovery efforts started after Hurricane Laura.
A year later, residents are struggling to rebuild after all the weather events.
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“Our residents are still trying to recover from the storms of Hurricane Laura and Delta and this is just another blow,” Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Brian Abshire said.
The tornado also caused strong winds in Lafourche and Terrebonne and more than 5 inches of rain fell in parts of St. Tammany and Washington parishes.
In Chauvin, a temporary shelter set up for those displaced because of Hurricane Ida got damaged, and the people had to be moved.
“This is a difficult time for our state, no doubt,” Edwards said.
Edwards kept the press conference short, as he had to catch a plane to Scotland, where he is attending the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties. Edwards said severe weather events like the tornado showed the need for climate change action.
“Here in Louisiana, here in Calcasieu Parish, I have no doubt that climate change is real and it is changing our weather, and not for the better,” Edwards said. “It’s one of the reasons I’m going, because I think we’re more affected by climate change than any other state in the nation, not just with respect to storms, but also with sea level rise and so forth.”
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