At least seven people have been killed by carbon monoxide from generators, including four members of a family found dead in a home in Lake Charles. A fifth member of that family was taken to a hospital. Their generator was located in a garage and the deadly gas was able to seep into the house through a door that was left cracked open, the mayor said.
Another man in the Calcasieu Parish, which includes Lake Charles, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator, as did an 84-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman in the same home in Allen Parish, to the northeast, said health officials, who warned people never to place generators in homes or in closed garages.
The city’s largest hospital, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital Health System, whose phone lines were down, had to evacuate all patients to other hospitals and was operating only its emergency room. The hospital said on its website that pregnant mothers should leave the area because the hospital was not providing obstetric services except in emergencies.
The power failure in Lake Charles could continue for weeks, the mayor said, and people have been racing to buy more gasoline to provide power to their homes.
In addition to the deaths tied to generators, five other people have died in Louisiana, four from falling trees and one from drowning. In Texas, where Mr. Trump headed next, at least four deaths have been tied to carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.
“This is just way, way worse than Rita,” said Brett Geymann, 58, a former Louisiana state lawmaker who lives in Moss Bluff, a suburb of Lake Charles, referring to the powerful hurricane that struck the area in 2005.
Mr. Geymann said residents were increasingly worried about the lack of water as they contemplated not having flushable toilets or being able to wash their hands in a sink, particularly during the pandemic.