Hurricane Laura struck Louisiana and Texas as a Category 4 Storm, battering the coast as it made its way inland. Four people have been killed as a result of the storm according to the Weather Channel.
More that 885,000 homes and businesses are without power across 4 states due to severe winds and heavy rains. Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards revealed in a press conference Thursday afternoon that falling trees caused the deaths of four people in his state, including a 14-year-old girl. All the deaths occurred inland, far from the coast where Laura made landfall around 2 am Eastern Standard Time.
Lake Charles, LA, which is about 45 miles north of Laura’s landfall, was particularly hard hit by the storm. A chemical plant was set ablaze by the storm and heavy smoke poured from the damaged building. The mayor of Lake Charles, Nic Hunter said the damage to his city by high winds exceeded that of Hurricane Rita in 2005. “This has turned out for the city of Lake Charles to be a catastrophic wind event. I’m looking out my window and I see buildings in downtown Lake Charles that look like Swiss cheese. I see a TV tower that’s collapsed. I see literal entire facades of buildings that are blown off, not just windows. First floor of city hall, the entire first floor walls are basically just blown apart. This is a major event,” the mayor said.
Fema administrator Pete Gaynor tweeted advice to residents affected by the hurricane, “Wait for the all clear from local officials before leaving your shelter. There is still danger of tornadoes,
flash floods, downed power lines & fallen branches. Don’t go out and place yourself & first responders at risk,” as reported by Fox News.
Fifty-Four Hundred Louisiana National Guardsmen have been activated to help with safety and cleanup efforts, Louisiana National Guard Brigadier General Keith Waddell said. “We had a great plan coming in based upon the effects of Hurricane Laura, our team engaged very quickly this morning, getting out and doing assessments, working with local authorities, state and federal authorities as well, just getting the job done.”
Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) said his state looked like it had been “bombed,” and said the worst is yet to come as damage is assessed and the rebuilding process begins.
Texas suffered less damage overall than neighboring Louisiana. Texas Governor Greg Abbot said, “”While we are grateful that the damage of Hurricane Laura was far less severe than expected, many communities in Southeast Texas have experienced significant damage from this storm.” The most severe damage in Texas was along the Louisiana border where numerous trees were downed and debris scattered everywhere.
Hurricane Laura weakened into a tropical storm hours after making landfall, but there is still danger from flooding and other residual effects. The National Weather Service (NWS) warned of the potential for tornadoes to form as the storm heads into Arkansas and Tennessee.
President Trump is planning to visit areas in Texas and Louisiana hit by the hurricane this weekend to assess the damage.