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US Counts Cost Of Destructive Hurricane Laura, One Dead

Lake Charles, United States: Hurricane Laura tore off roofs and shredded buildings in the southern US state of Louisiana as it slammed into the coast early Thursday killing at least one person, with shaken residents emerging to survey the damage.
Forecasters warned of the continued risk of a storm surge as the hurricane — one of the strongest to ever hit the region — moved inland and weakened rapidly.

Most of the windows of the Capitol One Bank Tower skyscraper in the city of Lake Charles were blown out by ferocious gusts that also uprooted trees, power pylons and road signs.

Streets were flooded, debris flew through the air and buildings were submerged by water or destroyed.

More than 700,000 people were without power in Louisiana and neighboring Texas, according to the site.

“We thought we were safe. We had generators, we had windows boarded up,” Ashley Thompson told ABC news.

“We got our family in our home under the kitchen table. After being under the kitchen table for about five minutes, we lost our roof.”

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards appealed to residents to stay home, and confirmed that one girl died when a tree fell on her home in the Leesville area of the state.

He also warned of a large chemical plant fire near Lake Charles that was belching black flumes into the air.

The National Hurricane Center said a dangerous storm surge could still sweeping inland, but downgraded its alerts.

The NHC had earlier warned of an “unsurvivable” surge as evacuation orders were issued for hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents.

“Hurricane Laura remains a deadly hurricane with devastating coastal storm surges, destructive winds, and flash flooding,” the White House said in a statement, adding President Donald Trump vowed to deploy all necessary resources to help those in need.

Monster storm

Satellite images revealed the immense size of the hurricane as it made landfall as a Category 4 storm at around 1:00am (0600 GMT) near the town of Cameron, close to the border with Texas, packing sustained winds of 150 miles (240 kilometers) an hour.

Laura was expected to dump four to eight inches of rainfall, with some isolated areas of Louisiana receiving 18 inches.

By Thursday noon, the hurricane had weakened to a Category 1 storm as it moved towards Arkansas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott had warned Laura’s power was “unprecedented” and told citizens to “get out of harm’s way.”

“Your property can be replaced,” Abbott said. “Your life cannot.”

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on the third night of the Republican Party convention, urged people in the storm’s path to “heed state and local authorities.”

Coronavirus loomed over the emergency response, with authorities trying to ensure that evacuees use hand sanitizer, get their temperatures taken and maintain a distance of six feet.

The National Guard mobilized more than 1,000 members in Texas, including 20 aircraft personnel and more than 15 shelter teams.

In New Orleans, devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the historic French Quarter was empty of tourists. Sandbags were piled up in front of the doorways of colonial-style buildings and windows were boarded up with plywood.

The city remains traumatized from Katrina, which made landfall as a Category 3 storm, flooding 80 percent of the city and killing more than 1,800 people.

Laura earlier caused flooding in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, killing at least 25 people.

The Atlantic storm season, which runs through November, could be one of the busiest ever this year, with the NHC predicting as many as 25 named storms. Laura is the 12th so far.

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