Hurricane Laura Pummels Southwest Louisiana, Leaving Trail of Destruction

A apartment building is damaged Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, after Hurricane Laura went through the area near Lake Charles, La.

A apartment building is damaged Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, after Hurricane Laura went through the area near Lake Charles, La. AP Photo

 

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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | FBI to investigate Kenosha police shooting ... Florida could reinstate food stamp requirements ... Wyoming makes $250 million in budget cuts, including to health department.

Hurricane Laura tore through southwest Louisiana Thursday, leaving behind massive damage from the storm’s powerful winds. Storm surge from the hurricane, which landed as a Category 4 storm early in the morning, was not as high as experts had feared, sparing the region from the worst flooding it had anticipated. But officials cautioned that the storm still damaged or destroyed homes, leaving an unknown number of families to rebuild and likely leaving many without shelter during the coronavirus pandemic. “We did not have the worst case scenario develop—we should all be thankful for that,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “But there are still thousands and thousands of families whose lives are not right side up today.” Rescue teams worked to evacuate people from damaged buildings. At least six people, all in Louisiana, were killed in the storm. A chlorine production plant outside of Lake Charles caught fire, burning for hours and forcing people to shelter at home and turn off air conditioners to avoid breathing the toxic chemicals. In downtown Lake Charles, a city of around 80,000 people, buildings were partially collapsed and windows blown out. “It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” said Brett Geymann, who rode out the storm with family in nearby Moss Bluff. The storm, which also left behind damage in Texas, moved north up Louisiana and into Arkansas. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and then a depression by the end of the day. [The Advocate; Associated Press; CBS News; New York Times]]

KENOSHA SHOOTING | The FBI will investigate the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer, the second civil rights probe related to use of force by a white police officer against a Black man the federal agency has taken on since May. The FBI is still examining the fatal shooting of George Floyd in Minneapolis by former officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in state court with the killing. On Wednesday night, protesters again took the streets in Kenosha, Wisconsin to decry the police shooting of Blake, who was shot by a city officer seven times in the back on Sunday. Unlike in previous nights, peaceful protests did not morph into destructive demonstrations, with fires set, businesses damaged or destroyed and looting.  [New York Times; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

LA TRAFFIC | The Los Angeles City Council voted to figure out if there are ways to encourage businesses to continue remote work for businesses, with the goal of keeping commuters off the roads and therefore reducing carbon emissions. City staff will draw up proposals for incentives or methods to coax businesses into allowing more staff to work from home. [KCAL]

FOOD STAMP ACCESS | Florida could reimpose food stamp requirements for recipients as soon as Sept. 1. Since March, the state has waived its requirements that people who get food stamps regularly “recertify” with state officials, as well as either hold a job or show they are looking for work. More than a million people have signed up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Florida since the pandemic started, the biggest increase in any state. Advocates criticized the possible reimposition of SNAP requirements, saying they are an inappropriate burden on people who are struggling in a terrible job market. [Miami Herald

WYOMING BUDGET | Gov. Mark Gordon wrapped up $250 million in budget cuts, which will include eliminating 274 state jobs (although many are empty positions.) The cuts will include a 9% reduction in the budget of the state health department, which will mean reduced services for people with developmental disabilities, early childhood development programs and senior citizens. “(The cuts) are going to be devastating, but as governor, I am constitutionally required to balance the budget, and they are necessary,” Gordon said. [Casper Star Tribune]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty.

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