Hurricane Laura was so forceful that it caused widespread damage, including knocking a Confederate statue right off of its pedestal.
The powerful storm intensified into a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, early Thursday morning. Hurricane Laura’s fierce rainfall and 150-mile-an-hour winds have caused serious destruction to buildings, power lines, and communities.
On Thursday morning, Davante Lewis, a 28-year-old Director of Public Affairs and Outreach at the Louisiana Budget Project, tweeted that the South’s Defenders Memorial Monument — a statue dedicated on June 3, 1915, to honor local Confederate soldiers — was destroyed as a result of the storm.
After George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in May and nationwide protests ensued, some local residents called for the Confederate statue’s removal. Because it resides outside of the Calcasieu Parish courthouse, however, the decision was left to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. On Aug. 13, after reading written testimonials and listening to members of the public argue in favor of the statue’s removal for more than two hours, the Police Jury voted 10-4 to leave the statue on courthouse grounds.
Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish has been filled with controversy and tension after our parish government by a vote of 10-5 refused to take down the Confederate South’s Defenders Monument.
Hurricane Laura had other plans and brought it down herself. pic.twitter.com/HmyCVlJF8k
— Davante Lewis (@davantelewis) August 27, 2020
In his tweet, Lewis shared pre- and post-hurricane photos of the South’s Defenders Monument and noted that although the Police Jury ruled the statue would remain, “Hurricane Laura had other plans and brought it down herself.”
In a DM with Mashable, Lewis explained that a friend in Lake Charles took the photo on the left on Thursday morning. And after receiving the photo Lewis found the image on the right through Google and sent his tweet.
“I was born and raised in Lake Charles. Most of my family still lives there,” Lewis said. He also said that his father, Eddie Lewis Jr., is an elected Police Juror in Calcasieu Parish. Per the Calcasieu info site, Lewis (a rep for District 3) voted in favor of the statue’s removal on Aug. 13.
Twitter user Andrew Beam also tweeted two photos from outside the Calcasieu Parish courthouse, which give a better view of the fallen Confederate general statue bent on the lawn among various fallen tree branches.
“My dad sent me some pics of the South’s Defenders monument in Downtown Lake Charles post-Laura and… I think some people may be happy about this,” Beam wrote alongside the images.
On Aug. 20, after the Police Jury voted against the removal of the South’s Defenders Monument, the American Press reported that a group of people gathered outside the courthouse to protest the decision.
The publication also reported that “officials had received a tremendous amount of feedback from the public in the form of emails, letters, postcards, hand-delivered notes, and voicemails.”
“We have received 945 written responses from the public during this period,” Parish Administrator Bryan Beam told the American Press. “Of the total responses, 878 were against relocating the monument and 67 were for relocating the monument.” (Per the Washington Post, more than 80 Confederate monuments have been removed in the U.S. since George Floyd was killed.)
It has not been confirmed in any official way that the statue was toppled by Hurricane Laura’s winds. (People have in the past worked to manually remove these monuments.) But it certainly was standing as normal as of a few days ago, so the storm theory does seem to be the most plausible.
Though Lewis isn’t currently in Lake Charles, he’s still in Louisiana (about two hours away) and was able to comment on the local destruction caused by Hurricane Laura.
“[There’s] a lot of damage in Lake Charles and it seems worse than [Hurricane] Rita. North Louisiana is feeing the wrath as well,” he said. “Our state and local budgets were already shot due to COVID and will be in [an even more] dire place now. Congress is going to need to provide more aid to help the Covid recovery and another aid package for us survive Laura’s damage.”
Before Hurricane Laura made landfall Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter issued an evacuation order for the area, saying, “Get out of Lake Charles. Get out of Calcasieu Parish.” And though the storm’s severity has lessened since touching down in Louisiana, as of publication time the storm has resulted in at least four fatalities in Louisiana.