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Governor Warns Laura Will Be A 'Very Strong' Category 2 Hurricane

National Weather Service
Wind speed possibilities for Tropical Storm Laura.

Gov. John Bel Edwards warned Louisianans to prepare for Tropical Storm Laura to make landfall along the southwest coast of the state as a “very strong” Category 2 hurricane.

Edwards said he was concerned people let down their guard after Tropical Storm Marco, which will make landfall later today, weakened over the last 24 hours.

“The good news is we're not going to have two hurricanes. And we're not going to have that short window of time, 12 to 18 hours, to try to do search and rescue and so forth ahead of Laura,” Edwards said in a press conference Monday morning.

But he warned that Laura’s track remains centered on Louisiana’s south-west coast, and forecasts continue to project at least a Category 2 hurricane.

“We’re only going to dodge the bullet so many times,” he said.

And he warned that the threat is two-fold: Both the threat of the storms, and the ongoing threat COVID-19’s high viral spread across the state. State COVID-19 testing sites are closed today and tomorrow. People should prepare hurricane kits that include masks and hand sanitizer, and the pandemic should impact evacuation plans, he said.

Louisiana has not yet opened any state-run shelters, though it’s “prepared to do that if we need to,” Edwards said, calling those shelters “really a last resort.” They will be adapted to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, including grouping families together, possibly inside tents, Edwards said.

The current plan for those who evacuate is to use parish-run shelters, and the state is working with parish governments to shelter people in hotels and motels.

The state has processed requests for sandbags, pumps and personnel. It’s working to close gates along the river and close to the coast.

The National Guard has more than 2,000 guardsmen ready to provide support. It’s staged 94 high water vehicles, 55 boats and a dozen aircraft across South Louisiana, Edwards said.

The Department of Corrections has evacuated 1,300 parish inmates from Plaquemines, St. Mary, Terrebonne and Vermillion parishes.

Edwards declared a state of emergency on Friday. President Donald Trump approved a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana on Sunday.

Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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