BREAKING: Hurricane Laura hit Louisiana
Hurricane Laura hit the Louisiana coastline early Thursday — sweeping ashore with an intensity the region has not seen in over a century.
Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph, putting it in a tie with a hurricane from more than 160 years ago for the strongest storm to hit Louisiana. The “Last Island Hurricane” of 1856 also had winds of 150 mph when it made landfall in Louisiana.
“Right now you can still hear the wind. It’s screaming through the cracks and crevasses of the building,” CNN correspondent Martin Savidge said from Lake Charles, where the CNN crew is taking refuge indoors. “When you were outside, you literally felt the entire building as it was shuddering under the wind blow. So it’s taking a beating.”
Hours before Laura’s landfall, water levels along the coast rose rapidly as forecasters warned of an “unsurvivable” storm surge of up to 20 feet and devastating winds. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards predicted parts of his state will be submerged.
“The surge is going to inland … there will be parts of Lake Charles underwater that no living human being has ever seen before,” he told WWL Radio. “We are marshaling all of our people and assets to go in … and start a very robust search and rescue effort.”
The storm made landfall nearly the same week as Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago. Katrina was a Category 5 while it was over the Gulf of Mexico — but was downgraded to a Category 3 by the time it made landfall.
The storm is complicating evacuations in the midst of a pandemic. Due to safety concerns associated with the coronavirus outbreak, officials are opening congregate shelters only as a last resort. States and parishes were lining up noncongregate options, such as hotel rooms, for evacuees, said Mike Steele, a spokesman for the state’s office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The storm surge for Laura could spread up to 30 miles inland in southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas — reaching all the way to Interstate 10 potentially between Beaumont and Lake Charles.
BREAKING: Hurricane Laura hit Louisiana Hurricane