Residents in Louisiana and Texas are bracing for impact from a rare set of storms expected to make landfall this week.
Though Tropical Storm Marco continued losing strength Monday, storm surge warnings were in effect in parts of Louisiana and Texas. Tropical Storm Laura, currently bringing rains and flooding to parts of Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, is trailing behind and is expected to intensify into a Category 1 storm when it makes landfall in Louisiana or Texas on Wednesday night.
Emergency response officials voiced concern Monday that recovery efforts from Marco could be curtailed by Laura’s arrival later in the week. Any search and rescue operations or infrastructure repairs to power lines could be stalled as the second storm sets in.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to prepare for coastal flooding and storm surge from Marco, and what Laura could bring in the days to come. “Do not become complacent, and remain prepared for whatever comes with this storm and with Laura later this week,” Edwards said Monday during a press conference, as reported by the New York Times.
It’s extremely rare for the Gulf of Mexico to sustain a tropical storm and a hurricane at the same time, with the last instance of such weather events occurring more than 60 years ago, according to the National Weather Service.
The confluence of disasters in 2020 has created an additional set of considerations for emergency planners responding to a pandemic as well as events like this week’s storms. Traditional approaches, such as mass evacuations to congregate shelters, may heighten risks associated with Covid-19, forcing planners to create alternate evacuation plans, like housing people safely in local hotel rooms.
Direct Relief is monitoring these storm systems and is in contact with health facilities across Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, ready to respond as needed.
Each year, caches of essential medicines are staged in hurricane-prone communities across the U.S. Gulf Coast and the Caribbean. These hurricane preparedness packs are stored at partner health facilities and contain many of the essential medications commonly requested after a disaster, and relied upon to keep patients with chronic medical conditions out of local emergency rooms.