LAKE CHARLES, LA – The National Weather Service has postponed Hurricane Laura, citing a recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Southern Louisiana and the Houston Metropolitan Area.
Experts fear that evacuating citizens would force many into crowded convention centers and arenas where they would be more susceptible to Covid-19 transmission. Officials have pointed to a lack of provisions to ensure safe social distancing as well as a shortage of personal protective equipment staged at evacuation centers as reasons for their concerns.
“Given recent spikes in new Coronavirus cases in the region, we felt that it would be best to put the safety of Americans first, and postpone Hurricane Laura until January, at the earliest,” said National Hurricane Center forecaster David Brown.
The community reacts
While many expressed disappointment that the planned hurricane event will not happen as scheduled, most feel it was the best choice, including Lake Charles mayor Nicholas Hunter. “I know that many people in our community were looking forward to a nine-foot storm surge and wind speeds in excess of 140mph this year, but we have to put the safety and wellbeing of our citizens first. We’ll have plenty of opportunities for catastrophic hurricanes in the months and years ahead.”
Others feel that the postponement is an overreaction. Ted Snyder, a Cameron, Louisiana resident told BeetPress “big storms have hit us many times over the years and we’ve come out just fine. Government bureaucrats want to control us by forcing us to wear masks and not have every home and business in town ripped apart by category 5 winds. I’m sick of it. This is America, and we have a right to breath freely and drown in an unsurvivable storm surge.”
“I know for many folks, a major hurricane is the biggest event of the year,” said Forecaster Brown. “She traveled a great distance to be with people down in Louisiana, so it’s no small decision to send her back out into the gulf until the pandemic dies down. At the end of the day though, I think it’s the right move.”
Officials have set a tentative date of January 20, 2021 for the relaunch of Hurricane Laura.