President Donald Trump on Aug. 23 has approved an emergency disaster declaration for Louisiana and ordered that federal assistance be made available to help the state ahead of tropical storms Laura and Marco.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Aug. 24 that Marco is about 85 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and moving northwest at about 6 mph. A storm surge warning was issued for Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and a tropical storm warning was posted for Intracoastal City to the Alabama–Mississippi border. The NHC also issued a tropical storm warning for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New Orleans.
Laura, which is currently near Cuba, might be the more destructive of the two storms. It’s expected to strengthen into at least a Category 1 hurricane this week, and its “cone of uncertainty” suggests Laura might hit the Texas–Louisiana border area on the morning of Aug. 27.
“Hurricane and storm surge watches will likely be required for portions of the U.S. northwest Gulf coast area by this evening,” the NHC wrote.
Trump announced a state of emergency on Aug. 23 during a press conference about the COVID-19 pandemic. The White House said that disaster relief efforts will be coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The White House said that those agencies will “coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.”
Trump, in a news conference, said he approved the emergency declaration after a request from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas declared a state of disaster in his state as the two storms approached.
“It is incredibly important for anybody who could be in the path of these storms to constantly heed local warnings about what could happen in your community,” Abbott said on Aug. 24 at a news conference. “Understand this is very swift-moving, and there could be rising water very quickly.”
Over the weekend, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves similarly declared a state of emergency over the two storms.
“We are in unprecedented times,” Reeves said in a news conference. “We are dealing with not only two potential storms in the Gulf of Mexico in the next few hours, we are also dealing with COVID-19. Because of COVID-19, our shelter space is limited compared to how it normally would be. What that means to you is, should you need to get out, should you need to move north or perhaps east or … west, you need to make plans early to do so.”