Tidal Basin reviews the biggest disasters of the year

Tidal Basin has identified the Top Ten Disasters of 2020 based on significant events throughout the year that caused historical impacts including a two major hurricanes, Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta.

No. 3 – Hurricanes Laura and Delta

Hurricane Laura was the first major hurricane of the 2020 season and the strongest storm to impact Louisiana in over 150 years as a category 4 hurricane. “We have sustained some tremendous amounts of damage and have thousands of our state residents whose lives are upside down,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. “This was the most powerful storm to make landfall in Louisiana,” he said.

The storm came ashore in Cameron Parrish and the eye wall moved directly over the Lake Charles region of southwest Louisiana. The downtown region of Lake Charles took the brunt of the storm, with significant damage to the city’s business district and the lake front area. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter is a lifelong resident of the city and says it will take time for the community to fully recover. “I think it’s important to acknowledge both realities that exist in Lake Charles right now. There are a lot of people whose businesses are back open, people back at work, people who have been able to pick up the pieces, repair their homes and get back into their rental properties. And there’s also a lot of people who are still in a lot of pain and suffering right now,” said Hunter.

The National Weather Service office in Lake Charles was tracking the system as it was making landfall. As wind speeds reached over 120 miles per hour, the weather service’s radar dome was blown off and destroyed. The radar dome was rebuilt, and a new dome installed in late November. It also took months to repair the state’s power grid system with major damage to the Entergy Corporation’s transmission towers. Nearly one million customers were without power after landfall.

Six weeks after Laura, Hurricane Delta made landfall on Oct 9th where it came ashore less than 15 miles to the east of where Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana. Delta hampered the efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ blue roof mission. Phil White was the Army Corps’ Readiness Operations Center Emergency Manager for their Lake Charles operation. “Our contractors were over 95% complete to finalizing the blue roof mission as Delta was making landfall,” said White. A majority of the previously installed roofs survived Delta’s winds. However, the majority of the third-party temporary roofs installed did not survive Delta’s impacts according to White. The Corps completed approximately 8,000 roofs for Hurricane Laura.

Hurricanes Laura and Delta were just two of many events the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) responded to while also supporting the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Casey Tingle, GOHSEPs Deputy Director and Chief of Staff said his team stepped up to the plate when needed. “There were some very long nights and very long weeks as a part of this. And our team never backed up from those challenges and really took those on and stepped up to the challenge,” said Tingle.

Overall, Hurricane Laura was a multibillion-dollar hurricane with an estimated 16 billion dollars in damages. The storm killed 42 in the United States. Hurricane Delta resulted in an additional 4 billion dollars in damages and killed six.

Stay tuned for #2 on our list of the Top Ten Disasters of 2020.

To view what made our Top Ten list so far, click below: