Report from Louisiana: Checking in after Laura

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — Hurricane Laura came and went this past Thursday, leaving behind a wake of destruction throughout Louisiana.

The death count so far is fourteen, at least five of those from carbon monoxide poisoning from generator use. A fourteen year old girl in Leesville, Louisiana was killed when a tree fell on to her family’s home.

Lake Charles looks like a war zone; the pictures coming out of there are devastating. News reports indicate that it will be weeks before power is restored and in some parishes the entire power grid has to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Shreveport is in the far northwest corner of the state and Laura was still a Cat 1 hurricane when she reached us, which is very rare. The last major tropical storm we had through here was Rita in 2005, but it was not still a hurricane when it came through here.

We were without power in my neighborhood four days; in Shreveport we still have 18,000 without power as I write this just in Shreveport. Throughout the state is much more.

One thing I’ve realized is how spoiled and soft I am; my little tiny stint without power in the Louisiana heat and humidity is nothing compared to what other people are going through. If you want to destroy civilization, take away our air conditioning.

Donald Trump visited south Louisiana this weekend to survey damage; FEMA is on the ground and the Cajun Navy has been deployed to help. The resources to help are in place but it doesn’t make the current suffering much better when your home is destroyed and your possessions scattered across four parishes. A blue tarp doesn’t help you much.

That being said, Louisiana is strong and we have done this before. We will work together and rebuild, even stronger, and we will lift each other up and help each other get there.

I’m keeping this short today: I have some little minor problems to attend to today, like reinstalling a network driver on my laptop which has somehow disappeared, and cleaning out my refrigerator and the spoiled food that didn’t make it.

I’m counting my blessings, big time.

One thought on “Report from Louisiana: Checking in after Laura

  1. I hope you get things fixed and cleaned up soon, if you haven’t already.

    I have a question that has been bothering me for a while. Are there any building code requirements for building in hurricane country? Every time a hurricane comes through a coastal area (not necessarily just Louisiana), we see video of the windows breaking and the roofs flying off and the power lines sparking and tree branches down. It seems to me that better building codes or practices could eliminate a lot of that. But maybe things have already been reinforced and the hurricane overwhelms even the hardened structures. I don’t know.

    I live in Utah in an area of known earthquakes. There are building codes to make buildings resistant, and there has been an ongoing program to reinforce or replace buildings like schools that were built before the upgraded building codes were put in place. We had a moderately strong earthquake a few months back and sure enough the worst damage was to old, non-compliant masonry buildings, while the newer buildings were mostly unscathed. I suppose when the big 7.5 earthquake arrives that the authorities says is on the way, even those upgraded buildings may not survive.

    Maybe because I’m an engineer I look for an engineering solution to hurricane damage – stronger buildings, better drainage, and so on. Just a question that bothers me whenever a hurricane makes landfall.

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