BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday urged people sheltering in hotels in Texas to stay there if possible, saying Louisiana is having difficulty finding available hotel rooms for more evacuees after Hurricane Laura.
More than 92,000 people had registered for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency by midday Thursday, he said at a news conference in Baton Rouge. Nearly 12,000 people were being sheltered by the state, largely in hotels.
“We don’t think we would be able to quickly absorb another 2, 3, 4,000 people into our hotels,” the governor said.
The number of those in shelters has risen steadily as damage to homes and a lack of power or running water in large areas of the state made an increasing number of homes uninhabitable. More than 205,000 utility customers remained without power Thursday, according to he Louisiana Public Service Commission. Meanwhile, the state health department reported 137,000 people faced water outages and hundreds of thousands more needed to boil their water to make it safe for use.
Edwards said he is encouraged by the progress he’s seen in Lake Charles, a week after the hurricane devastated the area. But he cautioned the recovery would be long.
Laura roared ashore as a Category 4 hurricane just south of Lake Charles near Cameron, Louisiana, packing 150 mph (240 km/h) winds and a storm surge up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) in some areas. State officials have called it the most powerful storm ever to hit Louisiana.
Twenty-five deaths in Louisiana and Texas have been attributed to the storm. Three more fatalities were reported Thursday by the Louisiana health department. In Rapides Parish, a 65-year-old man and a 50-year-old man both died from medical conditions exacerbated by excessive heat after losing electricity. Elsewhere, the fifth member of a family had succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning in Calcasieu Parish.