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Hurricane Laura strengthens as it approaches Texas, Louisiana | News



Hurricane Laura is likely to cause catastrophic damage and “unsurvivable storm surge” to the Gulf Coast near the Texas-Louisiana border after strengthening on Wednesday to a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, ranked on the Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity, was about 320km (200 miles) south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 220km/h (140m/h) and was expected to pack winds of up to 233km/h (145m/h). 

The catastrophic storm surge as high as 20 feet (6 metres) from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana could penetrate up to 48km (30 miles) inland from the immediate coastline, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a Wednesday morning advisory.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott urged Texans living in the path of the deadly storm to get out of the storm’s path immediately.

“All the people who could potentially lose their life, if they know – number one in a hurricane – that’s to make sure that you save your own life. It doesn’t do you any good to save your property if you’re going to you lose your life. Property can be replaced. Your life cannot,” Abbott said in an appearance on Fox News television on Wednesday.

More than 420,000 Texas residents and another 200,000 people in neighbouring Louisiana were under mandatory evacuation orders on Wednesday. Buses were being sent to evacuate people who are also being asked to wear masks and maintain a physical distance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You only have a few hours to prepare and evacuate for #HurricaneLaura. Wherever you are by noon is where you’ll have to ride out the storm,” Louisiana Governor John Edwards tweeted on Wednesday morning.

People line up to board buses to evacuate Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Wednesday in the face of Hurricane Laura [Gerald Herbert/AP Photo]

Skies were dark and a light rain was falling on Wednesday morning in the island city of Galveston, which was mostly boarded up.

Randall Gilmore, a 48-year-old maintenance worker, was riding his bike along the city’s sea wall, watching the clouds roll in. Work had prevented him from evacuating yet, but he planned to move to nearby Texas City in the afternoon.

“This storm doesn’t look like it’ll be bad so far, but I feel it’s better to leave. You never know what to expect with these storms. Sometimes hurricanes can fuel tornadoes, and I don’t want to be here in Galveston if that happens,” Gilmore said.

Laura battered the Caribbean over the weekend as a tropical storm, killing 24 people between the Dominican Republic and Haiti and damaging thousands of houses and electricity infrastructure.

State and federal emergency management agencies were rushing to provide sheltered accommodations and get first responders in place.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor posted pictures of teams bringing portable shelters to Camp Beauregard, Louisiana on Tuesday, and Texas Governor Abbott said his state’s National Guard was in place with high-water vehicles and rescue helicopters.

The storm was moving at about 26km/h (16m/h) on Wednesday morning.

Workers board up windows ahead of Hurricane Laura

Workers board up windows at the Galvez Hotel and Spa on Tuesday in Galveston, Texas, as Hurricane Laura headed towards the US Gulf Coast [David J Phillip/AP Photo]

“I’m a little excited and nervous, but not scared,” said Carlos Morales, 21, who works for a fencing company in Galveston. He said he planned to ride out the hurricane in his five-foot elevated house about 10 blocks from the beach.

The storm is expected to spawn tornadoes on Wednesday night over Louisiana, far southeastern Texas, and southwestern Mississippi, the NHC said. It added there would likely be widespread flooding from far eastern Texas across Louisiana and Arkansas from Wednesday to Thursday.

Laura will likely drop 13-25cm (5-10 inches) of rain over the region, the NHC said.

Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been paralysed as companies batten down operations. Output cuts are nearing 90 percent – a level not seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Landfall during pandemic

Texas is coming down from a period of peak COVID-19 cases and deaths, and there are currently some 108,000 active cases of the virus, according to the state health department. More than 41,000 hospital beds were occupied as of Tuesday, including more than 12,000 in Houston and Galveston, state data showed.

Texas hands out masks to Hurricane Laura evacuees

Mary Lyon, centre left, hands out masks to evacuees as they wait in line to register before boarding a bus on Tuesday in Galveston, Texas; the evacuees were being taken to Austin, Texas, as Hurricane Laura headed towards the Gulf Coast [David J Phillip/AP Photo]

Hidalgo County, Texas, urged voluntary evacuation in the coastal region surrounding Houston, and shelters were set up in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. Thousands of evacuees would be sheltered at hotels in Austin to encourage physical distancing, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Houston, which lies in Laura’s path and has closed public COVID-19 testing sites in advance of the storm, was pummeled in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, which killed at least 68 people and caused $125bn in property damage. The fourth-largest US city, with 2.3 million residents, Houston is about 70km (45 miles) north of the open water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Lina Hidalgo, the top executive for Harris County, which encompasses Houston, warned of deadly winds and a destructive storm surge after Laura makes landfall.

“This storm certainly can cause unprecedented devastation,” Hidalgo said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We truly have to say: prepare for the worst.”

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge



Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.



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Is Johnson Byabashaija courting Enid Kukunda for protection?



The very amiable Commissioner General of Prisons Canon Johnson Byabashaija was recently sighted with President Y K Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s second wife Enid Kukunda as the two had a very secretive meeting in one of the city hangouts.

According to our informers, the two seem to be in a deep conversation that they wouldn’t allow a housefly pass around. However, sources further reveal that Byabashaija could have courted the second lady for protection given that he has amassed a lot of wealth and could be a subject of investigations.

Our sources reveal that Byabashaija who carries himself as Mr.I know it all hasn’t met Madam Enid alone but a host of others with connections to the centre of power in the country.

We will bring you more detail

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Bobi Wine released on Bail



Presidential candidate and kyadondo East legislator Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu has been realeased on bail by the Iganga magistrates court where he appeared to defend himself against accusations of flouting COVID-19 campaign SOPs. A defiant Kyagulanyi took the opportunity to blast the incumbent Yoweri Museveni, whom he accuses of using state power to quell dissident.

This follows a tense week that has seen thousands injured and several dead following Hon. Kyagulanyi’s arrest earlier this week. Demonstrations and riots erupted in many parts of the country and heavy police and army deployment was seen all over the country.

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