The angry storm surge has receded and the clean up has begun from Hurricane Laura, but officials along this shattered stretch of Louisiana coast are warning returning residents they will face weeks without power or water amid the hot, stifling days of late summer.
The U.S. toll from the Category 4 hurricane stood at 14 deaths, with more than half of those killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from the unsafe operation of generators.
President Donald Trump plans on Saturday to tour the damage in Louisiana and neighboring Texas. He told reporters he considered delaying his Thursday night speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for reelection because of the storm. But he said that, as “it turned out, we got a little bit lucky. It was very big, it was very powerful, but it passed quickly. "
Across southwestern Louisiana, people were cleaning up from the destructive hurricane that roared ashore early Thursday, packing 150-mph (240-kph) winds. Many were deciding whether they wanted to stay in miserable conditions or wait until basic services are finally restored.
Lauren Sylvester returned to her townhouse in Lake Charles on Friday after heeding a mandatory evacuation order and staying with her mother in a city about 95 miles (130 kilometers) away.
The inside of her unit was not directly damaged, but the roof lost shingles. Around her home, it was a different story. Power lines and trees were down.
“It’s still an incredible amount of damage,” said Sylvester, who was heading back to her mother’s house as soon as she finished cleaning up.
Simply driving was a feat in Lake Charles, a city of 80,000 residents hit head on by the hurricane’s eye. Power lines and trees blocked paths or created one-lane roads that drivers had to navigate with oncoming traffic. Street signs were snapped off their posts or dangling. No stoplights worked, making it an exercise in trust with other motorists sharing the roads.