So what else do we have to deal with in 2020?
When a coronavirus pandemic upset our economy and sent thousands to doctors and hospitals — an ongoing crisis — the people of Louisiana as much as any had to deal with a threat we’re not used to.
Masking up, social distancing, working at home or, worse, unemployment — all these were part of a new normal.
But the old threats are still there, like hurricanes.
At least we’ve got plenty of experience of how to deal with hurricanes, or the threat thereof.
The machinery of response is in gear. President Donald Trump acted quickly on a declaration of emergency requested by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Early warnings went out for Marco, the opening act in an unusual tropical duet. The more powerful Laura was careening toward the mouth of the Sabine River but Marco was downgraded to a tropical storm just before its projected landfall.
Laura was responsible for a reported nine deaths in Haiti. Flooding from Laura’s heavy rainfall in the Dominican Republic claimed at least four lives, including two children.
Evacuations of low-lying coastal areas are the norm but have particular importance even if, as the governor phrased it, we seemed to be “catching a break” on Marco.
That is because these storms are coming back-to-back. The projected path of the two storms is unprecedented in modern history, said Ben Schott, meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service in New Orleans.
Coming in the midst of a pandemic, officials know what now to prepare, but they are aware of the difficulties of making things work in two unprecedented situations, widespread contagion and double doses of tropical weather hitting our coast. That’s true even for the rainfall expected from the downgraded Marco.
“If you’re in duress and need help, we’re going to get to you as soon as possible,” Edwards said Sunday at the state’s Emergency Operations Center, where officials were tracking and preparing for the storms. “But as soon as possible may be longer than it normally is.”
In Baton Rouge, where memories of widespread flooding in 2016 are still fresh, the prospect of heavy rain is problematic. Officials planned on using hotels, with more vacancies than usual because of the coronavirus, but also prepared for other options for those fleeing high water.
Louisiana’s main concern from Laura appears to be in southwestern parishes, hit hard by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and then struck by the right-hook of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Maybe we’re more used to this, but we must remain vigilant this week. Preparing for the worst is our Louisiana drill in August.