Hurricane Laura ripped through Louisiana early Thursday morning as one of the strongest storms to ever hit the state.
The devastating storm left behind a wide path of destruction, and claimed at least six lives.
When Laura swept ashore, the storm surge was less than projected. But that didn’t stop the storm from being one of the most powerful storms to hit the United States.
Hurricane Laura One of the Most Powerful Storms on U.S. Soil
“It is clear that we did not sustain and suffer the absolute, catastrophic damage that we thought was likely,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. “But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage.”
Gov. Edwards also said that Laura was the most powerful hurricane to strike Louisiana, surpassing even Katrina, which was a Category 3 storm when it hit the state in 2005.
Laura’s top wind speed clocked in at a whopping 150 miles per hour, which actually puts it among the strongest storms on record in the United States.
The storm hit Louisiana in the early hours of Thursday as a Category 4. It wasn’t until a full 11 hours after landfall that Laura finally lost hurricane status as it pushed north and tore into Arkansas. Even into Thursday evening, it remained a tropical storm with winds of around 40 mph.
Laura hit Lake Charles, an industrial and casino city of 80,000 people, particularly hard.
“The last 24 hours have felt like a week out of a bad science fiction novel,” said Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter in a Facebook post.
The storm blew out windows, ripped roofs off of structures, and even left many buildings partially collapsed. Homes were destroyed. Part of a transmission tower toppled over into the studios of a local TV station.
At the Lake Charles Regional Airport, hangars were severely damaged. Planes were overturned, some on top of each other.
The damage continued with a fire at a chemical plant, toppled statues, and a floating casino that came unmoored and hit a bridge.
Of course, a full assessment of the damage brought by Laura will likely take some time.
Water Plants Damaged, Hundreds of Thousands Left Without Electricity
About 900,000 homes and businesses in both Louisiana and Texas have been left without electricity. Water plants in the Lake Charles area were damaged as well, leaving many residents with “barely a trickle of water coming out of most faucets.”
The storm is also responsible for six deaths in Louisiana.
According to authorities, four people died after trees fell: a 14-year-old girl in Vernon Parish, a 51-year-old man in Jackson Parish, a 60-year-old man in Acadia Parish, and a 64-year-old man in Allen Parish.
Two more people died in Calcasieu Parish — a 24-year-old man, and another man who’s age was not disclosed.