Hurricane Laura makes US landfall: Category 4 hurricane leaves 4 dead, causes extensive property damage
Laura made landfall near Cameron in Louisiana on Thursday, bringing catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding
Houston: Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron in Louisiana on Thursday, bringing "catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding" that killed at least four, caused extensive damage to property and snapped electricity supply.
Laura, a Category 4 hurricane with a maximum wind speed of 150 miles per hour and one of the strongest to hit the US, slammed into the Gulf Coast early Thursday and roared through Louisiana. The bulk of the damage was reported in Louisiana. The storm barreled over Lake Charles, Louisiana, an industrial and casino city of 80,000 people.
President Donald Trump is expected to visit the Gulf Coast this weekend to survey the destruction caused by one of the catastrophic hurricanes in living memory here.
Speaking at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, hours before the final night of the Republican National Convention, Trump said the campaign briefly considered postponing his convention speech until Monday so he could travel to Texas, Louisiana and possibly Arkansas to survey the damage, but ultimately decided to continue with the speech as planned.
Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence were briefed in detail along with damage pictures by FEMA officials at its National Response Coordination Center.
"This team forward deployed resources," Pence said. "We were ready for the worst, and by all accounts from the experts, while this was obviously a major storm with devastating impact, it was not as bad as it could have been."
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Trump that the situation on the ground "is fluid and challenging," but the FEMA is responding. The hurricane's top wind speed of 150 mph put it among the most powerful on record in the US.
At least four deaths have been linked to the storm in Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards said Thursday. All of the victims died when trees fell on their homes. One victim was a 14-year-old girl in Vernon Parish. The other three are a 68-year-old man in Acadia Parish, a 51-year-old man in Jackson Parish, and a 64-year-old woman in Allen Parish.
Widespread power outages across Louisiana and Texas are increasing and as of 4 pm. CST more than 8,40,000 people remained without power, according to data from PowerOutage.us. Louisiana is experiencing the worst of the outages with almost 6,00,000 people without electricity.
Videos shared on social media showed that wind blew out dozens of windows in high-rise office buildings, including the 22-story CapitalOne tower, ripped the top off a sky bridge, and tipped an RV on its side. The whistling winds mimicked the alarm-like sounds that could be heard inside buildings, according to videos on social media.
Laura damaged key transmission lines, conductors and some transmission towers that handle bringing power from the east. KHOU-TV said that the power utility is asking customers in the western area north of Houston to voluntarily curtail their power usage to help the infrastructure.
In Lake Charles, a regional hub known for its petrochemical plants and crowded casinos, commercial buildings were peeled apart, exposing insulation and wood frames. Billboards were punched out and trees snapped in half.
Fire broke out Thursday morning at a chemical plant in Westlake, local authorities said, sending thick smoke over a wide area and prompting shelter-in-place directives for residents in the communities of Westlake, Moss Bluff and Sulphur.
Mayor Robert Hardey of Westlake said the fire was burning at a plant operated by BioLab, a subsidiary of Kik Custom Products, which makes cleaners, antifreeze and other chemical products. A spokesman for the parent company, confirmed in a statement that the fire was the result of storm damage.
Meanwhile, Texas governor Greg Abbott said Thursday that his state dodged a bullet. He said there were still no confirmed fatalities in Texas nearly 12 hours after Laura made landfall and his state appeared to have made it through the storm with minimal or no loss of life, which he said was a "miracle."
Abbott toured the affected areas of East Texas Thursday and described seeing roofs sheared off buildings and uprooted trees following an aerial tour of the damage near their shared border.
Abbott said about 8,500 people were served in Texas shelters. He said the state minimized potential loss of life because residents in the storm's path heeded local advance warnings to evacuate.
Hurricane Laura made landfall overnight near Cameron, Louisiana, bringing "catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding" to portions of the state, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday. The storm had intensified rapidly into a Category 4 hurricane before slamming into the Gulf Coast near the Louisiana-Texas border.
By mid-Thursday, the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm as it moved north over Louisiana, which took the brunt of the damage. It was continuing to bring strong winds and flooding rainfall to northern Louisiana and southeastern Arkansas, according to forecasters.
High water levels were persisting along the Gulf Coast. Tornadoes are possible through Thursday night in parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.
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