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DOTD reflects on Hurricane Laura one year later

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Lake Charles, La. – One year since Hurricane Laura made landfall in Cameron Parish, and brought catastrophic storm damage to Louisiana, DOTD continues recovery efforts and is still investing in the hardest hit parts of the state.

Hurricane Laura affected all aspects of the transportation system. Downed trees, mangled utilities lines, and broken power poles as well as excessive construction and household debris obstructed roadways and hindered recovery efforts. Thousands of roadway signs were damaged or missing and nearly all traffic signals were damaged in the Southwest region, which includes Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis Parishes.

Before Hurricane Laura’s historic landfall and immediately after, DOTD assisted other state and local agencies in evacuating residents from Southwest Louisiana. Thousands of residents were safely transported to non-congregate shelters.

Once safe, DOTD employees immediately cut and pushed debris to clear roadways, inspected bridges, and replaced traffic control devices. Crews used generators to restore power temporarily to signals at high traffic intersections and reinstalled over 15,000 roadway signs. Tennessee Department of Transportation arrived with heavy machinery and assisted with clearing roadways.

“DOTD’s employees responded quickly and efficiently in Laura’s aftermath often working twelve or more hours per day to restore our transportation system,” said Secretary Dr. Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “Many of them returned home with no electricity, water, and varying degrees of damage. The work, the effort and the dedication of the DOTD staff was impressive and the progress that has been made in one short year is a testament to the hard-working people of Louisiana. DOTD recognizes more work is needed and remains dedicated to continuing to help the people of Southwest Louisiana in their ongoing recovery efforts.”

This event demonstrates the importance of the investment in resilience included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and why it should be supported.” said Secretary Dr. Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “We can use the additional funding to address areas that are impacted by natural disasters, or even flash floods which are becoming more common.”

Since Hurricane Laura, DOTD has allocated $9.3 million to projects restoring transportation in affected areas. This includes repairs and replacement of traffic signals and signs, operational and safety repairs to bridges and moveable bridges, shoulder and roadway repairs, and repairs and replacement of guardrail.

DOTD continues investing in projects to improve congestion, drainage, and safety in areas affected by the storm and across our state. DOTD has recently partnered with the City of Lake Charles to clean and inspect underground drainage along LA 385 (Ryan Street). Shortly after Laura, DOTD broke ground on a $152 million project to widen I-10 to six lanes in western Calcasieu parish. Once finished, this project will increase traffic capacity and the transportation of goods and services, which is critical during emergencies and natural disasters.

“The residents of Louisiana have faced hurricanes and several historic weather events in the past year with amazing resiliency,” said Secretary Dr. Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “While our communities continue to heal from Hurricane Laura, DOTD remains committed to addressing the needs of our transportation systems and providing a high-quality infrastructure system to the people of Louisiana.”

For more information on severe weather preparedness, please visit www.getagameplan.org.

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