At Least 150 Cameron Parish Residents Refused to Evacuate for Hurricane Laura, Official Says

As Hurricane Laura bears down on Louisiana, authorities are reportedly aware of at least 150 Cameron Parish residents who chose not to evacuate.

In the early hours of this morning, the deadly storm made landfall close to the town of Cameron, which has a population of just over 400. Weather experts said storm surges in the region could be "unsurvivable," forecasting severe damage.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said waters from the Gulf may surge by up to 20 feet in some sections along the coast, with extreme winds of more than 100 miles per hour and flash flooding also expected as a result of the vortex.

One advisory warned surges could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the coast and said waters were not expected to recede for "several days" following the storm.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said this week that Cameron Parish could "look like an extension of the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days," as WWLTV reported.

National Hurricane Center: Read the latest advisories.

Despite warnings shared with communities across the 7,000-strong Parish via social media and door calls, officials have confirmed they know of clusters of residents who refused to leave their homes, some of which were "recreational vehicles."

"It's a very sad situation," Ashley Buller, who is assistant director of the Parish's Office of Emergency Preparedness, told the Associated Press (AP) after relocating to Lake Charles area. "We did everything we could to encourage them to leave."

Residents of Louisiana and Texas were asked to evacuate as the hurricane approached, with authorities urging them to stay with family or in hotels to avoid the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19. Scientists warned evacuations could lead to a rise in virus cases.

The status of the Cameron Parish residents who stayed behind remains unclear at the time of writing, but the news comes as an official in the neighboring Calcasieu Parish has said authorities are not yet able to help anyone in need of assistance.

"People are calling the building but there ain't no way to get to them," Tony Guillory, president of Calcasieu Parish's police jury, told the AP from Lake Charles.

The Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office said in a notice yesterday that any residents who refused to leave their homes needed to understand that "rescue efforts cannot and will not begin until after storm and surge has passed and it is safe to do so."

"Please evacuate and if you choose to stay and we can't get to you, write your name, address, social security number and next of kin and put it a ziplock bag in your pocket. Praying that it does not come to this!" the department wrote on Facebook.

Videos posted to social media by weather experts and storm chasers show conditions resulting from Hurricane Laura have already wreaked havoc across some regions:

For anyone in impacted states, officials stressed it is a "life-threatening situation" and that residents in its path should "take action now" to protect their lives.

"The safest place to be during a major landfalling hurricane is in a reinforced interior room away from windows," NHC officials said. "Get under a table or a piece of sturdy furniture. Use mattresses, blankets or pillows to cover your head and body. Remain in place through the passage of these life-threatening conditions."

The NHC forecasts Laura will "move northward across western and northern Louisiana through this afternoon. The center of Laura is forecast to move over Arkansas tonight, the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday, and the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday."

Hurricane Laura
A street is seen strewn with debris and downed power lines after Hurricane Laura passed through the area on August 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The hurricane hit with powerful winds causing extensive damage to the city. Joe Raedle/Getty
At Least 150 Cameron Parish Residents Refused to Evacuate for Hurricane Laura, Official Says | News