With New Storm Brewing, Louisiana Governor Tours Previous Hurricane Damage  

Warning of another storm on its way, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) toured Lake Charles on Thursday, reviewing recovery efforts one year after Hurricane Laura battered the city. The deadly hurricane last August damaged homes and businesses, including casinos.

Tropical Depression Nine
Tropical Depression Nine
This television graphic shows the anticipated path of a major storm this week. The storm began as a tropical depression, but is expected to become a hurricane. (Image: KHOU-TV)

Edwards said the state is making an appeal to Washington, D.C., for $3 billion in needs remaining from Hurricane Laura, according to KLFY-TV. Edwards said federal money might be available for the state next month. He toured Lake Charles, a city in southwestern Louisiana, with FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, according to The Advocate newspaper. 

Hurricane Laura’s one-year anniversary comes as another turbulent storm is forming in the Caribbean. This storm, known in its early stages as Tropical Depression Nine, is expected to develop into a hurricane as it churns northward into the Gulf of Mexico. Early tracking models show it could hit the South Louisiana coastline near Lafayette on Sunday or Monday. 

At a news conference on Thursday, Edward urged residents to prepare for the storm, which could gain steam as it approaches landfall.

“It could be a major hurricane,” the governor said. “What you’re going to see, and we’ve seen it before — if fact, we saw it with Laura — in all likelihood is rapid intensification.”

Destructive Storms

Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph, barreled ashore south of Lake Charles on Aug. 27, 2020, creating a nine-foot storm surge. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit Louisiana since 1856, leaving a path of death and destruction. Six weeks later, another hurricane clobbered the area.

During Hurricane Laura, the Isle of Capri riverboat casino came unmoored and slammed into the I-10 bridge. The riverboat was unoccupied. No one was injured.

Under a 2018 Louisiana law allowing riverboat casinos to move their operations ashore, the Isle of Capri is being transformed into a land-based property. The resort, renamed the Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles, is expected to open next year.

The two hurricanes that battered the Lake Charles area last year were among several destructive storms that struck Louisiana and Mississippi in 2020.

Casino Closures

The 2021 hurricane season began on June 1 and will continue through November 30. 

This year, 18 named storms are expected to develop in the Atlantic Basin. As many as five of these are projected to be major hurricanes.

Some storms are already hitting the US. In July, Tropical Storm Elsa slammed into North Florida, forcing the temporary closure of the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack poker room and racebook.

On Sunday, Tropical Storm Henri plowed into Southern New England, forcing temporary casino closures in the area. A storm becomes a hurricane when it reaches sustained wind speeds of 74 mph and above. Henri attained wind gusts of 75 mph, but its sustained wind speeds were 70 mph or lower at landfall.

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