LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — Five members of a Louisiana family have died after a generator leaked carbon monoxide into their home, hours after they survived Hurricane Laura’s deadly winds and storm surge.
Rosalie Lewis, 81, decided to shelter with her husband and three other relatives in her Lake Charles home as the Category 4 storm battered the coast early Sunday, bringing 150 mph (240 km/h) winds and a storm surge as high as 15 feet (4.5 meters).
The family was unable to evacuate because of health conditions that made travel difficult, The Advocate quoted family members as saying this week.
The home, which had also withstood Hurricane Rita in 2005, suffered little damage and Rosalie Lewis and her family survived Laura.
But emergency crews arrived after the storm passed to find her; her daughter, Kim Evans, 56; her son-in-law, Chris Evans, 61; and her brother, Clyde Handy, 72, dead. A generator placed in the garage filled the home with carbon monoxide during the night, according to authorities and relatives.
They had left the garage door open for ventilation, but winds from the storm likely blew it closed, allowing the poisonous gas to seep into the home, Rosalie’s son, Lyle Lewis, 55, told The Daily Advertiser.
“They made it through the storm and there was a freak accident,” relative Patrick Perry told The Advocate this week.
Rosalie Lewis’ husband, John Charles Lewis Sr., 84, survived and was taken to a hospital in critical condition, relatives said. He was on life support Wednesday, but died Thursday, his son, Lyle Lewis, confirmed to The Associated Press.
Twenty-five deaths in Texas and Louisiana have been attributed to the storm, and nearly half were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from the unsafe operation of generators, according to authorities.
Rosalie Lewis was a well-known member of her Lake Charles neighborhood and had served as the first Black female postal service supervisor in southwest Louisiana, family members told news outlets. John Lewis Sr. drove trucks for 40 years and Kim Lewis Evans and her husband Chris Evans had been married for 30 years and often cared for her parents. Handy was remembered by relatives as a loving uncle and father figure, The Daily Advertiser said.
A joint funeral service for the family members was set for Sept. 12.