As Louisiana residents return to repair homes ravaged by Hurricane Laura, Gov. John Bel Edwards has cautioned people to pace themselves amid extreme weather conditions.
“It wouldn’t take much for people to have a heat stroke or suffer heat exhaustion in weather like this,” said Edwards during a briefing Monday afternoon, just days after Laura ripped through the state as a Category 4 storm.
The warning comes on the heels of a National Weather Service heat advisory for parts of southwest Louisiana, including Lake Charles, which took the brunt of Laura’s impacts.
Throughout the state, power outages remain widespread and hundreds of thousands are without running water, according to the state’s health department. While water is expected to come back online once power is restored, some communities may be without electricity for up to three weeks, officials warn.
In anticipation, many of the area’s hospitals have evacuated patients to alternate sites where water and electricity are operational. The Lake Charles Memorial Hospital – the area’s largest medical facility – transferred nearly 150 patients, including 19 babies, to centers in unaffected areas.
As emergency officials seek to avoid congregate shelters due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hotel rooms have been packed with evacuees. Over 14,000 residents are sheltering in hotels throughout Louisiana and Texas.
The official death toll from Hurricane Laura stands at 18, with 11 of those deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning from the unsafe operation of generators. The Louisiana State Health Department has urged people to keep generators outside and away from open windows.
Direct Relief is preparing multiple shipments of emergency medical supplies to support first responders in the wake of Hurricane Laura, including a shipment of over-the-counter medications and personal hygiene items being sent to Houston-based NACC Disaster Services, as well as a shipment of insulin bound for the Volunteer Healthcare Clinic in Austin, Texas, which has been treating evacuees in need of diabetic care.
In addition to medical aid shipments and hurricane preparedness packs stationed across the U.S. Gulf Coast, Direct Relief has been providing information and disaster response insights to local and regional governments and emergency responders.
The organization has also been coordinating with Texas Emergency Management, Texas Public Health Department, Louisiana Public Health, Louisiana VOAD, Texas VOAD, and the Texas Red Cross.
Direct Relief will continue to respond to requests from local providers as needs arise.