Hurricane Laura Clashes with COVID-19

After wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and killing 20+ people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Laura hit Texas and Louisiana yesterday with 150 mph winds, Vox reports.
 
Laura also raised urgent concerns that it and future hurricanes would worsen the COVID-19 crisis in hard-hit states, NPR reports

More than a half million people had been ordered to evacuate—this time mostly to hotels rather than group shelters.

Then there’s the environmental issues:  

  • Laura’s path is dotted with petrochemical plants, Superfund sites, refineries, oil and gas wells, and pipelines that in the Gulf Coast region, the Washington Post reports.
  •  At one Louisiana chemical plant, Hurricane Laura triggered a fire that sent plumes of chlorine gas into the air.
  •  As they shut down ahead of the storm, many oil refineries also reported releasing gases well above regulated limits.

 
“What do the words ‘safely shut down’ mean to the chemical industry?” asks Gerald Poje, a former member of the federal Chemical Safety Board. “We may not have learned what we should have learned from events over and over and over again.”

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