Hurricane Laura pounded the Louisiana and Texas coasts as it made landfall near Cameron, La., as a Category 4 storm early Thursday, delivering a barrage of 150-mile-per-hour winds and a wall of water that was predicted to reach as high as 20 feet.
Landfall came after officials in both states issued the gravest of warnings, sounding the alarm about a storm that, in many ways, could be one of the worst to hit the region in decades.
The National Hurricane Center called the expected storm surge “unsurvivable,” and said that it could push as far as 40 miles inland. Officials also said that low-lying areas facing the brunt of the storm, like Cameron Parish in Louisiana, would essentially be annexed by the Gulf of Mexico until floods receded.
“I’m asking people right now to pay attention to this storm, to get out of harm’s way,” Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana told residents during a briefing before the storm’s arrival. “Understand, our state has not seen a storm surge like this in many, many decades. We haven’t seen wind speeds like we’re going to experience in a very, very long time.”
More than 1.5 million people in the coastal regions of Texas and Louisiana were under some form of evacuation order.
In Calcasieu Parish, La., as winds have reached 93 miles per hour with gusts of 126 miles per hour, Tony Guillory told CNN that it “sounded like a train” was bearing down on the building where essential workers were based.
Mr. Guillory, a member of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, said that while a mandatory evacuation order was in force, not everyone was able to get out.
“There are still people out there,” he said. “It’s too late.”
The National Weather Service said heavy rain was pounding Lake Charles, Jennings, Lafayette and New Iberia. People in Lake Charles posted videos on Twitter of sheets of rain blowing across the streets and trees buckling in the background. Tens of thousands of people across the region were without electricity.
Laura was among the strongest storms to ever hit the United States, according to data compiled by Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University who studies hurricanes.
Source: New York Times