Hurricane Laura to hit coasts of Louisiana, Texas with force

Hurricane Laura to hit coasts of Louisiana, Texas with force”

It rapidly weakened to a Category 2 storm Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (168 kmh) as it moved north and battered southwest Louisiana, a marshy region particularly prone to storm surge and flooding. That meant a mighty gush of water was not fully pushed up the Calcasieu Ship Channel, which would have given the storm surge an easy path far inland.

The once fearsome Category 4 hurricane packing 150-mph winds weakened to a depression after dark.

Laura could also spawn tornadoes over Louisiana, Arkansas and western MS and was expected to drop up to 30cm of rain over the region, the NHC said.

Emergency responders, as well as the National Guard and state wildlife law enforcement officers were helping to evacuate people who had been in Laura's path.

A full assessment of the damage could take days. "The threat #Laura poses to Louisiana is far from over".

Much of the footage shared on social media captured downed power lines and trees toppled over onto homes and businesses.

The hurricane's first reported US fatality was a 14-year-old girl in Leesville, Louisiana, who died when a tree fell on her house, a spokeswoman for Governor John Bel Edwards said. "But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage", he said.

Laura's howling winds leveled buildings across a wide swath of the state and a wall of water that was 15 feet (4.6 m) high crashed into tiny Cameron, Louisiana, where the hurricane made landfall around 1 a.m.

The hurricane's top wind speed of 241km/h put it among the strongest systems on record in the US Not until 11 hours after landfall did Laura finally lose hurricane status as it ploughed north and thrashed Arkansas, and even by Thursday evening, it remained a tropical storm.

At least six people have died in the storm. On Broad Street, many buildings had partially collapsed, and those didn't were missing chunks. Windows were blown out, awnings ripped away and trees split in eerily misshapen ways. Police spotted a floating casino that came unmoored and hit a bridge.

"Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials", Edwards wrote on Twitter. Laura knocked it down.

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Williams said he left his vehicle in Lake Charles, so he's positive it's a total loss.

"There are houses that are totally gone".

Firefighters and hazmat teams from multiple agencies are still working to extinguish the chemical fire at BioLab Inc., a facility in Westlake that produces chlorine for swimming pools. Nearby residents were told to close their doors and windows, and the fire smoldered into the night. Another man drowned in a boat that sank during the storm, authorities said.

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Thursday that his state dodged a bullet.

"We know when to get out and where to go because we've been doing it for quite some time, so it's nothing unusual, but I just pray for the people that don't listen", he said.

Abbott said about 8,500 people were served in Texas shelters. That made him think the roof of his house was next.

"You'd hear a crack and a boom and everything shaking", he said.

"They say we are all supposed to socially distance now", he said.

Laura was the seventh named storm to strike the USA this year, setting a new record for US landfalls by the end of August.

Laura hit the USA after killing almost 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.

President Donald Trump - who said he considered delaying his Republican presidential nomination acceptance speech over the storm - promised to visit the Gulf Coast "very shortly".

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