Hurricane Laura: A medic’s diary

Paramedic Kelly Grayson recounts weathering the storm that damaged his station and ambulance, and left the city in tatters


At 0300 UTC on Aug. 20, 2020, Tropical Depression 13 formed approximately 1,035 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands. At 0100 local time on Aug. 27, it made landfall on the Louisiana Gulf Coast near Cameron as Hurricane Laura. A strong Category 4 hurricane still gaining strength as it approached, Laura hit the Louisiana coast with sustained winds of 150 mph, making it the strongest hurricane to ever strike the Louisiana Gulf Coast.

Dwarfing even the power and destruction of Hurricane Rita, Laura still packed tropical storm winds in Little Rock, AR, 300 miles north of landfall.

What follows is my EMS account of working through the storm.

0500, August 26: Time to leave for work. I’ve got food, money, water and uniforms to last for three days. My duty station is 62 miles southwest of my home, directly in the hurricane’s path. I kiss Nancy goodbye, scratch my dog behind the ears, and remind him to be a good boy while I’m gone. Acadian tells me to be prepared to be on-duty for at least 36 hours, a projection I find exceedingly optimistic.

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