Hurricane Laura lashes Louisiana

Hurricane Laura lashes Louisiana
Parts of Louisiana saw flooding as early as Wednesday. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Hurricane Laura has made landfall in Louisiana, causing flash flooding and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

It is one of the strongest to ever hit the Gulf Coast of the US, striking at category four with winds up to 150mph (240km/h).

Laura’s feared storm surge has so far reached 9ft (2.7m) in parts and is still considered life-threatening and could spread 40 miles (65km) inland.

Half a million residents have been told to leave parts of Louisiana and Texas.

Where did Laura hit and what’s its path?

Hurricane Laura made landfall shortly after midnight local time (05:00 GMT) near the district of Cameron, in Louisiana. It tracked north, just east of the Louisiana-Texas border.

It had been downgraded to a category three storm three hours later, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported, before weakening again to category two. Maximum sustained winds were near 100 mph (160 km/h) at 12:00 GMT, with higher gusts.

But the NWS said in a statement “a catastrophic storm surge, hurricane force winds and flash flooding will continue”.

On Thursday afternoon, Laura will track north across Louisiana, with its centre moving into Arkansas overnight. Ken Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center, said it is expected to become a tropical storm later, but it could still be hurricane force up to the Arkansas border.

One sheriff’s office in Louisiana’s Vermilion Parish said those who had not chosen to evacuate themselves should “write your name, address, social security number and next of kin and put it a Ziploc bag in your pocket. Praying that it does not come to this”.

What is the damage so far?

Daylight is now beginning in the region so the extent of the damage will become more known.

Earlier forecasts had warned of an “unsurvivable” storm surge. But they said a slight change in wind direction had spared some areas from the feared 20ft. However, the NWS said the surge could still affect areas 40 miles or more inland, up to the Lake Charles area, and flood waters would “not fully recede for several days”.

More than 400,000 homes in the US state of Louisiana and more than 100,000 in Texas lost power in the early hours on Thursday, according to the US tracking site PowerOutage.

Images from Lake Charles have shown flying debris, trees ripped from the ground, broken windows and part of the roof of the Golden Nugget Casino flew off.

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