Hurricane Laura Forecast to Become Category 4 Storm As Thousands Flee Gulf Coast Communities

Evacuees wait to board a bus as they evacuate, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Galveston, Texas. They are being taken to Austin, Texas, ahead of Hurricane Laura.

Evacuees wait to board a bus as they evacuate, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Galveston, Texas. They are being taken to Austin, Texas, ahead of Hurricane Laura. AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Family says Jacob Blake is paralyzed after being shot by Kenosha police … A state attorney general resigns … Maryland to audit unusual agency severance practices.

Communities along the Gulf Coast in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana were preparing Tuesday for Hurricane Laura to make landing as a dangerous Category 4 storm late on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. The hurricane's powerful winds could drive storm surge as much as 30 miles inland, threatening not only homes but the energy and chemical plant infrastructure around the Texas/Louisiana border. The National Hurricane Center upgraded the forecast for Laura to develop into a Category 4 storm early Wednesday morning, warning of "potentially catastrophic damage from San Luis Pass, Texas to the mouth of the Mississippi River."

Officials on Tuesday ordered hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate from coastal communities, the largest evacuation called during the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s imperative that you make plans this morning to secure your homes and move you and your family to safety off island,” said Galveston Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown to local residents. The virus has made it more difficult for officials to help people displaced by natural disasters. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said evacuation centers are being set up, but officials urged people who can to stay in hotels or with family members. [Associated Press; Texas Tribune; NOLA.com]

JACOB BLAKE | During a tense third night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, two people were shot and killed and a third injured, officials said. Sheriff David Beth said his department is investigating a group of men with long guns who had stationed themselves outside a gas station. Blake, the 29-year-old Black man shot multiple times in the back by police in Kenosha on Sunday, is paralyzed, his family’s attorney said Tuesday. "The medical diagnosis right now is that he is paralyzed,” said Benjamin Crump. “Those bullets severed his spinal cord and shattered some of his vertebrae.” Crump said it would take a “miracle” for Blake to walk again. Video of the shooting sparked widespread protests on Monday, not only in Kenosha, but also in Madison and other cities across the country. Blake’s family pleaded with protesters against destructive demonstrations, as officials on Tuesday estimated overnight fires damaged or destroyed 30 businesses. Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., broke down during a news conference. “They shot my son seven times,” he said. “Like he didn’t matter. But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.” The three officers who were at the scene where Blake was shot have been put on administrative leave pending a state investigation. But neither police nor the state have released information about how many officers fired their weapons and why they attempted to speak to Blake before shooting him. [New York TimesMilwaukee Journal Sentinel; Kenosha News; Chicago Tribune]

ATTORNEY GENERAL RESIGNS | Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson resigned Tuesday, just hours after publication of an investigation by the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica that found he sent 558 text messages to a younger state employee who was required to have contact with him as part of her job. He invited the employee to his house in 18 messages. [Anchorage Daily News]

JAIL FUNDING PROTESTS | People protested inside an Oklahoma City meeting room on Monday, criticizing the decision of Oklahoma County leaders to give most of the county’s $34 million in federal coronavirus funding to the local jail. Instead, protesters want it spent on small business and rental assistance. [KTUL]

MARYLAND AUDIT | Maryland will audit a state agency that paid out a $233,000 severance to its departing leader, who left Maryland Environmental Services to become Gov. Larry Hogan’s chief of staff. Roy McGrath resigned after the Baltimore Sun revealed the payment, which had become a practice at the agency. [Baltimore Sun]

This roundup was updated after publication with developments about Hurricane Laura and protests in Kenosha. 

Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty.

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