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|A Lake Charles street is strewn with debris and downed power lines on August 27 after Laura passed through. Photo: CNN|
An extremely powerful Hurricane Laura ripped apart portions of Louisiana and far-eastern Texas, killing at least four people and tearing off roofs while knocking out power for hundreds of thousands after first roaring ashore as a Category 4 storm.
Three of the victims died after trees fell onto homes: a 14-year-old girl in Vernon Parish; a man in Jackson Parish; and a 60-year-old man in Acadia Parish, CNN reported.
|Flooding inundates the Crystal Beach and Galveston areas in Texas, video from KRTK shows via CNN.|
Laura tied with a hurricane from more than 160 years ago for the strongest storm to hit Louisiana. The 1856 hurricane also had winds of 150 mph when it made landfall, CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. Hurricane Katrina in 2005, although it was a Category 5 while it was over the Gulf of Mexico, was downgraded to a Category 3 by the time it made landfall.
|Satellite view of Hurricane Laura mid-morning August 27. (NOAA)|
About 1,900 people remained sheltered in hotel rooms provided by the state, and another 800 rooms were available for those in need. The hotel rooms are being used in order to avoid gathering large groups in shelters during the coronavirus pandemic, said The Weather Channel.
Power outages were skyrocketing in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas as the storm carved its way inland throughout the morning. More than 885,000 customers were without electricity in those four states at about 2:40 p.m. CDT, according to poweroutage.us. The bulk of those were in Louisiana and Texas.
|Flooding is seen in Sabine Pass, Texas on August 27. Photo: CNN|
Lake Charles, meanwhile, suffered some of the worst damage. Thick smoke poured from a large fire burning at a chemical plant near the city, and the Isle of Capri casino broke loose from its mooring and was wedged underneath the I-10 bridge over Lake Charles, which remains closed until the bridge can be inspected for damage.
|Smoke rises on August 27 from what is reported to be a chemical plant fire in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Photo: CNN|
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter described the scene in his town early August 27 morning.
“This has turned out for the city of Lake Charles to be a catastrophic wind event,” Hunter told The Weather Channel. “I’m looking out my window and I see buildings in downtown Lake Charles that look like Swiss cheese. I see a TV tower that’s collapsed. I see literal entire facades of buildings that are blown off, not just windows. First floor of city hall, the entire first floor walls are basically just blown apart. This is a major event.”
|Smoke rises from a burning chemical plant after Hurricane Laura passed through the Lake Charles, La., area on August 27. Photo: AFP|
Authorities warn that the smoke could contain chlorine, nitric oxide and other toxins used in industrial and commercial disinfectants and for swimming pool maintenance, Washington Post said.
KIK Custom Products confirmed that the fire is burning at a Biolab plant that sits in an industrial park along Interstate 10, which has been closed due to the caustic smoke, which can be extremely dangerous if inhaled.
Westlake, population 4,600, sits next to Lake Charles in coastal Louisiana. The area is home to numerous petrochemical refineries and various chemical plants.
Skyscrapers were without glass, while pieces of sheet metal and roofing were seen throughout city streets, Fox News reported.
|A person is seen through the blown out windows of the Capitol One Bank Tower in the downtown area of Lake Charles on August 27. Photo: CNN|
|A building that was damaged overnight by Hurricane Laura stands in Lake Charles, La., on August 27 morning. Photo: AP|
In Calcasieu Parish, the parish surrounding Lake Charles, Dick Gremillion, director of emergency management, told The Weather Channel there was "a lot of tree damage, a lot of utility damage."
He said trees fell on homes and mobile homes turned over. Laura ripped roofs off commercial buildings, Gremillion said, who added that it would be several hours before officials could begin to survey the damage because the parish was still experiencing 50 mph sustained winds as of 6 a.m. CDT.
|Trees are scattered across a road as the eyewall of hurricane Laura passed over Lake Charles, La., early August 27. Photo: AFP|
|There's a tree down in every person's yard in the city of Sulphur, just west of Lake Charles. Photo: CNN|
More challenges are ahead: Heavy rain and flooding are expected as the tropical storm moves north./.
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