Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Laura destroys southern US states
Hurricane Laura slammed into the southern US state of Louisiana Thursday and the monster category 4 storm prompted warnings of “unsurvivable” ocean surges and evacuation orders for hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said “extremely dangerous” Laura would bring winds of 150 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour) and “destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage” to Louisiana and Texas.
“TAKE COVER NOW! Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to the safe room in your shelter,” the NHC said on Twitter.
“Take action now to protect your life!”
Satellite images revealed the immense size of the hurricane as it made landfall at around 1:00am (0600 GMT), while television pictures showed heavy rain lashing the coastal city of Lake Charles, and powerful winds uprooting trees.
Earlier the NHC warned Laura could pummel the Louisiana and Texas coasts with an “unsurvivable storm surge” of up to 20 feet (six meters), and that tornadoes could form at the southern edges of the weather system.
“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” it said.
Between five to 10 inches (13 to 26 cms) of rain was expected in parts of the Gulf Coast between Wednesday and Friday.
Storm surges could penetrate up to 40 miles inland along parts of the coast, and peak surge coupled with high tide could see water as high as 15 to 20 feet above normal levels, it said.
Watch the aftermath video
Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned Laura’s power was “unprecedented” and urged citizens to “get out of harm’s way.”
“Your property can be replaced,” Abbott said, “your life cannot.”
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on the third night of the Republican convention, urged people in the storm’s path to “heed state and local authorities”.
The National Guard said it had mobilized more than 1,000 members in Texas to help with hurricane response, including 20 aircraft and more than 15 shelter teams.
Among the cities potentially in the path of the eye of the storm and under mandatory evacuation orders are Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, which suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Harvey three years ago.