Laura and Marco Set Sights on Northern Gulf Coast

Tropical storms Laura and Marco are expected to hit the northern Gulf Coast within a few days of each other. Marco was a hurricane on Sunday but has weakened considerably due to strong southwesterly wind shear. 

While Marco’s wind threat has diminished, heavy rain of three to six inches, with small areas potentially receiving 10 inches of rainfall are possible along the north-central and northeast Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.  Storm surge of two to four feet also is possible from Morgan City, LA, to Ocean Springs, MS.  Marco is expected to make landfall later today in southeast Louisiana.

Following close behind is Tropical Storm Laura, which forecasters say may intensify to a Category 2 hurricane by the time it makes landfall along the northwestern Gulf Coast.

Residents along the Louisiana coast were urged to prepare for hurricane conditions, and Gov. John Bel Edwards called on them to begin sheltering Sunday evening.

“If you’re in duress and need help, we’re going to get to you as soon as possible,” Edwards said at the state’s Emergency Operations Center, where officials were tracking and preparing for the storms. “But as soon as possible may be longer than it normally is.”

The National Weather Service warned Sunday that the stronger Laura could bring more significant impacts across southern Louisiana because of its potential for higher winds and storm surge and because preparing for Laura will likely be complicated by lingering impacts from Marco.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday declared a state of disaster for 23 counties and requested assistance from the federal government. If Laura were to make landfall in Texas, it could mark the second significant disaster during the 2020 hurricane season for Texas, following Hurricane Hanna dumping more than 15 inches of rain on South Texas in late July as the region was a deadly coronavirus hotspot. The COVID-19 pandemic remains pervasive in Texas, killing at least 200 people every day for the last three weeks, and Abbott reminded the public on Sunday to adhere to mask wearing, social distancing, and other health guidelines.

South Texas cities were the first to deal with a hurricane during the coronavirus pandemic, tweaking shelter practices to have adequate distancing between evacuees and outfitting first responders with protective equipment in order to follow safe coronavirus health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Residents are strongly encouraged to prepare for these and other storms during this “extremely active” hurricane season – particularly with the additional challenge of COVID-19.

Hurricane preparedness guidance is available from Triple-I here.

Insurance considerations

Wind-caused property damage is covered under standard homeownersrenters, and business insurance policies. Renters’ insurance covers a renter’s possessions while the landlord insures the structure.

Property damage to a home, a renter’s possessions, and a business – resulting from a flood – is generally covered under FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies, if the homeowner, renter, or business has purchased one. Several private insurers also offer flood insurance.

Private-passenger vehicles damaged or destroyed by either wind or flooding are covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. drivers choose to purchase comprehensive coverage.

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