In 2020, the Net-Out Migration of Lake Charles Increased More Than Any Other City’s in the US

Hurricane Laura Approaches Gulf Coast” by NOAASatellites is marked with CC PDM 1.0

The New York Times evaluated which metros had the biggest change in net-out migration in 2020 to see how COVID-19 impacted where people moved to and away from. The results were surprising, revealing that instead of COVID-19, an onslaught of hurricanes caused the biggest uptick in net-out migration in a metro area. 

Lake Charles, Louisiana, a city that was hit by 2 hurricanes, Laura and Delta, in quick succession took the top spot. The city had an unprecedented jump in net-out migration in 2020, with many residents leaving after the hurricanes. 

Lake Charles had a fairly normal 1.7% rate of net-out migration in 2019, however, that number jumped to a rate of 6.7% in 2020. This means that the city had an insanely high 5 point shift in net out-migration. 

To put these numbers into perspective, the city with the second-highest shift, Odessa, Texas, only jumped by 3.3 points. All of the other 10 cities that followed, ranged from having a 2.8 point to a 0.9 point shift. 

All of those areas didn’t go through what Lake Charles residents went through though.

The 150 mph winds of record-breaking Category 4 Hurricane Laura, lashed Lake Charles in late August, shredding buildings, and taking the lives of more than 2 dozen people. Six weeks later, Delta hit, when thousands of residents were still displaced and the carnage of Laura had hardly been fixed. The heavy rains flooded damaged buildings, worsening the wreckage. 

Lake Charles residents have noticed the population shift. They’ve seen the lingering devastation from the traumatic hurricane season. They’ve witnessed damaged homes going for dirt cheap prices while undamaged homes have had a massive spike in their cost. They are still living with the nightmare that Laura created and Delta worsened. 

The exodus that the hurricanes inspired in Lake Charles is startling, especially considering how hurricane seasons in Louisiana are anticipated to get worse and worse as climate change continues to be fueled by unsustainable human activity. 

The 2021 hurricane season to come is predicted to be almost as severe as the 2020 season. Colorado State University released a Hurricane Season Outlook report that predicted 17 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. 

The Weather Company similarly predicted 18 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes for the upcoming season, which is less than last year but far more than the 30-year average for hurricane seasons. The average is a mere 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. 

Hurricane Season 2021 will start on June 1st and run through November 30. Louisiana residents are already anxiously preparing for a hurricane season that could in turn affect their city as greatly as Lake Charles has suffered. 

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