Advertisement

As hurricane Laura weakens, the damage in Louisiana and Texas becomes clear

Click to play video 'Hurricane Laura batters Louisiana, weakens to Category 2 after “catastrophic” landfall' Hurricane Laura batters Louisiana, weakens to Category 2 after “catastrophic” landfall
WATCH: Hurricane Laura batters Louisiana, weakens after 'catastrophic' landfall

Hurricane Laura may have weakened after making landfall over Louisiana and Texas, but the damage scattered across coastal towns underlines the storm’s strength.

The storm slammed the coast at around 2 a.m. ET on Thursday as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of up to 241 km/h. About six hours later, it weakened to a Category 2 storm but continued to batter a stretch of both states with damaging winds and torrential rain.

Click to play video 'Hurricane Laura leaves its mark in Arkansas, Louisiana with widespread damage' Hurricane Laura leaves its mark in Arkansas, Louisiana with widespread damage
Hurricane Laura leaves its mark in Arkansas, Louisiana with widespread damage

It dropped to Category 1 status shortly after 9 a.m. ET on Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Hurricane Laura: 4 killed, buildings destroyed as storm inflicts less damage than expected

In Lake Charles, a city of 80,000 people on Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana, residents were warned their town could take a direct hit.

As dawn broke early Thursday and the eye of the storm passed, the scope of the damage became clear.

Videos posted on social media by local news and weather outlets showed homes almost entirely underwater, with shingles torn off roofs and downed trees strewn across neighbourhoods.

The tall-standing Capital One building in Lake Charles has been left with gaping holes where glass windows used to be. Lights could be seen flickering from inside and curtains waving between broken panes as the sun started to rise Thursday.

Story continues below advertisement

In the height of the storm, videos posted on Twitter showed extreme wind and rain battering the town. Traffic signs and trees could be seen fluttering from the strength of the wind, vehicles were overturned and debris sent soaring across roads.

Story continues below advertisement

Louisiana appears to have borne the brunt of the weather so far, but the storm centre continues to move across the state and Texas-Louisiana border.

Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate ahead of the hurricane, but not everyone did. Hours after the storm made landfall, the rain and wind were still too strong for authorities in Louisiana to check in on those who decided to stay.

Officials hoped to reach any stranded people later Thursday, but fears of floodwaters and downed power lines could hamper the efforts.

“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, told The Associated Press via phone during the storm.

Story continues below advertisement

The National Hurricane Center had predicted an “unsurvivable” storm surge of 15 to 20 feet in the Port Arthur, Texas, area and a swath of Louisiana, which included Lake Charles. A wall of seawater could also get pushed as far as 40 miles inland, forecasters said.

Rising waters moved ashore quickly in Port Arthur. Flash flood warnings remain in place for much of the area, as well as numerous towns and communities farther inland.

Hundreds of thousands of people also remain without power in both Louisiana and Texas.

Forecasters expect the weakened hurricane to continue to cause widespread flooding in areas far from the coast.

Story continues below advertisement
Reginald Duhon prepares to work at his home on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Lake Charles, La., after hurricane Laura moved through the state.
Reginald Duhon prepares to work at his home on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Lake Charles, La., after hurricane Laura moved through the state. . (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A person stands next to a hotel that had parts of its roof blown off as hurricane Laura passed through the area on Aug. 27, 2020, in Lake Charles, La.
A person stands next to a hotel that had parts of its roof blown off as hurricane Laura passed through the area on Aug. 27, 2020, in Lake Charles, La. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A street is seen strewn with debris and downed power lines after hurricane Laura passed through the area on Aug. 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, La.
A street is seen strewn with debris and downed power lines after hurricane Laura passed through the area on Aug. 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, La. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In Texas, the damage was not as severe.

Story continues below advertisement

Photos posted online show flooded streets and downed trees and power lines, but nothing to the extent of the damage assessed so far in Louisiana.

Down power lines stretch across a road in the aftermath of hurricane Laura Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Sabine Pass, Texas.
Down power lines stretch across a road in the aftermath of hurricane Laura Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Sabine Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A tree is uprooted in the aftermath of hurricane Laura Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Sabine Pass, Texas.
A tree is uprooted in the aftermath of hurricane Laura Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Sabine Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

However, early reports indicate that the damage in the wake of Laura was less than what was initially feared.

Story continues below advertisement

FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor told ABC’s Good Morning America that the storm surge was less intense than what was forecasted, though officials still anticipate severe damage to buildings once a proper survey of the disaster zone can be completed.

As of Thursday morning, the storm was moving across southwestern Louisiana. Forecasters expect it will continue north across the state through the afternoon, with the storm centre predicted to hover over Arkansas Thursday night and the Mississippi Valley on Friday.

Click to play video 'Hurricane Laura: Half a million people under mandatory evacuation notice on U.S. Gulf Coast' Hurricane Laura: Half a million people under mandatory evacuation notice on U.S. Gulf Coast
Hurricane Laura: Half a million people under mandatory evacuation notice on U.S. Gulf Coast

The mid-Atlantic states will see the brunt of the storm on Saturday, they said.

Heavy rainfall, severe winds and even tornadoes are possible Thursday and Friday across Louisiana, Arkansas and western Mississippi.

People walk past a destroyed building after the passing of hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, La., on Aug. 27, 2020.
People walk past a destroyed building after the passing of hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, La., on Aug. 27, 2020. (Getty Images)
Mitch Pickering plays his guitar while walking through the downtown area after hurricane Laura passed through on Aug. 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, La.
Mitch Pickering plays his guitar while walking through the downtown area after hurricane Laura passed through on Aug. 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, La. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

— with files from the Associated Press

Advertisement