Louisiana is now facing a long, grueling recovery in the wake of Hurricane Laura.
The storm made landfall last Thursday as one of the strongest to ever hit the United States. In fact, the storm was the strongest hurricane to strike Louisiana since 1856.
Laura struck with 150 mph winds, ripping apart buildings and homes, and contributed to nearly 20 deaths in both Louisiana and Texas.
The storm demolished more than just buildings, too. In fact, Laura destroyed parts of the state’s power grid.
Entergy Corporation, which delivers electricity in Louisiana and Texas, says the damage to its high-voltage transmission lines and other key infrastructure is some of the most severe the company has ever experienced.
Their customers can’t get power until these critical parts are restored. Unfortunately, the damage is so extensive in some areas that it will need to be essentially rebuilt from the ground up.
That could mean weeks — or even months — of electricity-less misery in the midst of humid Louisiana heat.
“We expect the recovery to be as difficult and challenging as we have ever faced in the past. Customers should expect extended power outages lasting weeks,” said the president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, Phillip May, in a statement.
The Lake Charles area has been hit particularly hard by Laura, and it could be a while before they see power restored. All transmission lines carrying electricity to the main power lines in Lake Charles “have been catastrophically damaged,” said Entergy.
Nearby Cameron Parish isn’t faring so well, either. It could take two months for residents to get power restored, said Ashley Buller, assistant director of parish emergency preparedness.
In order to survive the grueling heat, some residents are resorting to generators.
However, operating these generators correctly is essential to keeping people safe. Of Louisiana’s storm-related death toll, officials say that at least eight of them were from carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to use generators during the power outage.
To top it off, Hurricane Laura also knocked out most of the water service in the Lake Charles area. Water plants were damaged, leaving many residents with “barely a trickle of water coming out of most faucets.”
According to City Administrator John Cardone, the water problem is not just due to a loss of power. There’s also a possibility of broken pipes all over the city — but with residents evacuated, they don’t know where the leaks are.
They are hoping to get running water restored to residents as soon as possible.
“I can assure you we are doing everything we can. We understand the criticalness of getting water to our citizens,” Cardone said.
He continued, “We are bringing in engineers and generators to work on this. We just took a massive hit with this storm.”