Two more deaths in Louisiana have been blamed on Hurricane Laura, which made landfall there last month as a Category 4 storm, bringing the deaths in that state to at least 19, officials said.
The new deaths in Rapides Parish, involved people who died from medical conditions that were exacerbated by excessive heat and the loss of electricity, the Louisiana Department of Health said.
Five deaths in Texas have also been blamed on the hurricane, which made landfall Aug. 27, bringing the total deaths related to the storm to at least 24 in the two states.
More than 200,000 customers in Louisiana remained without power as of Thursday evening, according to the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
The storm “left a long trail of devastation and just catastrophic damage,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference Thursday.
Progress has been made in the last week, but “we clearly have a very, very long way to go,” Edwards said. “This is very much going to be a marathon, not a sprint.”
With so many out of power, and heat indexes in the state over 100 degrees for the past several days, Edwards warned residents working to rebuild to take breaks. Parts of central, western and southwestern Louisiana were under a heat advisory Thursday, and heat indexes in the low 100s are possible Friday and Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
Of the 19 deaths linked to the storm in Louisiana, four have been called heat-related by the state health department. Many without power are using generators, the governor said, and eight deaths have been blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.
At its peak, power had been knocked out to around 615,000 people in Louisiana, and the remaining people without electricity are likely to be among the hardest to restore, Edwards said, and it could take longest to restore power in the southwest part of the state due to the damage to infrastructure.
Thousands of miles of wire, thousands of utility poles, and hundreds and hundreds of transmission towers have been damaged by the storm, he said.