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Texas officials record deaths linked to Laura's landfall

HEMPHILL, Texas – Texas recorded four deaths Friday linked to Hurricane Laura, which roared ashore along the Louisiana border the day before.

Sabine County Emergency Management Coordinator Kerwin Lloyd identified the first death as David Murrell, 54, in East Texas. Murrell died Thursday when a tree fell on his mobile home at Toledo Bend Reservoir near Hemphill, Lloyd said.

In Port Arthur, three men died and four others were hospitalized Friday in critical condition from carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator they had brought indoors while sheltering from Laura, officials said.

Jefferson County Precinct 7 Justice of the Peace Brad Burnett said the seven were found inside the Bida-Vinh game room in Port Arthur on Friday morning. The game room’s owner had allowed seven shrimp boat laborers and homeless men to take refuge from the storm and left.

The owner returned about 10 a.m. Friday and found that his generator had been moved from where he had left it. When he opened the door to the business, he was met with the strong smell of exhaust from the generator that had been moved inside, Burnett said.

First-responders found only four of the seven still had pulses, and they were taken to a hospital in critical condition. Two of the three dead men have been identified, Burnett said. One was 60, the other was 53, and both were from Port Arthur. Their full identities were being withheld until their relatives could be notified.

At least two Port Arthur police officers also required hospital treatment for a dangerous level of carbon monoxide exposure, Burnett said.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas generated by any form of combustion and is lethal. Burnett expressed frustration that such fatal incidents occurred every time a storm causes a widespread loss of electric power and appealed to the public not to run their emergency generators indoors.

Officials blame Laura for a total of 14 deaths, with the rest counted in Louisiana.

Laura made landfall Thursday near the Texas-Louisiana border and sawed a devastating path as it moved north through Louisiana and later into Arkansas and Tennessee. Hundreds of thousands of people across Louisiana were still without power or water Friday.