A 14-year-old girl was killed during Hurricane Laura when a tree fell on her family’s home in the Vernon Parish area of New Orleans as the category 4 storm tore through the Gulf Wednesday.
Christina Stephens, the spokesperson for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, said the girl’s death was the first reported death caused by the storm in the United States. “We do expect that there could be more fatalities,” Stephens told the press Thursday.
A 60-year-old man was later confirmed to have died after a tree fell on his home in Acadia Parish as a result of the storm, police said.
The hurricane also caused a chemical leak near Lake Charles. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned residents to turn off air conditioning and close windows.
“There is a chemical fire in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area. Residents are advised to shelter in place until further notice and close your doors and windows. Follow the directions of local officials,” he tweeted Thursday morning. “If you are in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area, shelter in place, close your windows and doors and TURN OFF YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNITS. There is a chemical fire. Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials.”
Hurricane Laura intensified into an extremely dangerous category 4 as Texas and Louisiana residents clogged evacuation routes ahead of Wednesday night's expected landfall. A catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds will batter the region and threats of flooding rain and strong winds will extend 30 miles inland, weather forecasters warned.
Laura is the strongest August hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since deadly Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
More than 500,000 people were ordered to evacuate the area, including the Texas cities of Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur. Laura was expected to head north and east, affecting areas of Houston and Shreveport.