Hurricane Laura Comes Ashore in SW Louisiana as a Category 4 Storm
Hurricane Laura is pounding southwest Louisana and east Texas with ferocious wind and torrential rain and has unleashed a wall of seawater that could push 40 miles inland. At least one person has been killed.
Laura arrived as a Category 4 storm, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the U.S. based on its wind speed of 150 mph.
Louisiana took the brunt of the damage when the system barreled over Lake Charles, a city of 80,00 people, and nearby low-lying fishing communities. Powerful gusts blew out windows in tall buildings and tossed around glass and debris.
Police spotted a floating casino that came unmoored and hit a bridge. Drone video showed water surrounding homes with much of their roofs peeled away.
Gov. John Bel Edwards reported Louisiana’s first fatality — a 14-year-old girl who died when a tree fell on her home in Leesville, more than 100 miles inland.
“It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” said Brett Geymann, who rode out the storm with three family members in Moss Bluff, near Lake Charles. He described Laura passing over his house with the roar of a jet engine around 2 a.m.
“There are houses that are totally gone. They were there yesterday, but now gone,” he said.
Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate ahead of the hurricane, but not everyone fled from the area, which was devastated by Hurricane Rita in 2005.
“There are some people still in town, and people are calling … but there ain’t no way to get to them,” Tony Guillory, president of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, said over the phone from a Lake Charles government building that was shaking from the storm.
Forecasters had warned that the storm surge of 15 to 20 feet would be “unsurvivable” and the damage “catastrophic” along a stretch of coast from Lake Charles to Port Arthur, Texas. Damaging winds extended outward as far as 175 miles, according to the hurricane center.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor urged people in Laura’s path to stay home, if that’s still safe. “Don’t go out sightseeing. You put yourself, your family at risk, and you put first responders at risk,” he told “CBS This Morning.”
FEMA has plenty of resources ready to help survivors, Gaynor said. Edwards mobilized the National Guard to help, and state Department of Wildlife crews had boats prepared for water rescues.
Forecasters expected a weakened Laura to cause widespread flash flooding in states far from the coast. Little Rock, Arkansas, expected gusts of 50 mph and a deluge of rain through Friday. The storm was so powerful that it could regain strength after turning east and reaching the Atlantic Ocean, potentially threatening the densely populated Northeast.
Laura hit the U.S. after killing nearly two dozen people on the island of Hispaniola, including 20 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic, where it knocked out power and caused intense flooding.
It was the seventh named storm to strike the U.S. this year, setting a new record for U.S. landfalls by the end of August. The old record was six in 1886 and 1916, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
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