Hurricane Laura, which lashed various regions of Louisiana on Thursday, has killed at least six people. Houses and buildings have been destroyed, and trees have been uprooted. The entire surroundings are covered with green-brown floodwater.
Reports state that it will take days to assess the damage. Most of the buildings are destroyed and an airport hangar has been shredded into ribbons of metal. Even the houses and buildings that are still standing has roofs and shingles missing, with shattered windows and completely damaged yards filled with debris.
As the hurricane transformed into a category 2 storm, report of a chemical fire erupting at a manufacturing plant in Westlake, Louisiana, emerged. Officials had warned the residents to close their doors and turn off air conditioning. The fire has been described as a hazardous material incident.
Hurricane Laura made a landfall at Louisiana as a category 4 hurricane with winds up to 150 mph. It struck the coast near Cameron, around 1 a.m. CDT on Thursday, stated the National Hurricane Center. Laura's wind speeds were just 7 mph short of becoming a Category 5 hurricane.
After a while, Laura weakened to a Category 2 hurricane. The winds were at 120 mph. The storm was expected to to move over Arkansas on Thursday night and reach the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday and the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday.
The hurricane center had earlier warned that Laura could be a fatal storm that could rise up to 15 feet and dump up to 12 inches of rain over Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. The warning also read that isolated areas may receive 18 inches of rain.
The hurricane is causing flash flooding across the U.S. state. Reports claim that half-a-million residents have been asked to evacuate parts of Texas and Louisiana. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) asked people to take action to protect their life and told them to be in a reinforced interior room away from windows. "Get under a table or other piece of sturdy furniture. Use mattresses, blankets or pillows to cover your head and body," the NHC said.
Around 290,000 homes situated in Louisiana and 66,000 homes in Texas had no power since early hours on Thursday. Heavy rain and strong winds lashing the coastal city of Lake Charles in south-west Louisiana showed damage to some buildings in and around Louisiana.
Escaped Hurricane Marco, But Laura Wreaking Havoc
Louisiana was warned about two hurricanes, Marco and Laura, all set to strike the state. Marco developed into a hurricane on August 23 and started moving towards Louisiana at a speed of 75 mph. But it weakened on Monday morning becoming a tropical storm that turned into a tropical depression on Tuesday. Thus Marco did not make a landfall in Louisiana but killed 24 people across the Caribbean.
The weather department had anticipated that both the hurricanes would strike Louisiana within the gap of 48 hours wreaking havoc. But Marco is downgraded into a tropical depression and now the state is facing the wrath of hurricane Laura. Unlike Marco, the NHC images showed that Laura had intensified into a formidable hurricane within 24 hours.
COVID-19 Affecting Evacuation Process
NHC also said that Laura could bring life-threatening hazards to parts of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It warned the people that the hurricane could majorly damage even the well-built houses, uproot trees and cause power outage, which could take days or even weeks to come back to normalcy.
Meanwhile, more than 420,000 Texas residents have been asked to evacuate and 200,000 people were told to leave Calcasieu Parish in south-western Louisiana. Workers of Port Arthur in Texas, where nation's largest oil refinery is situated have also been evacuated.
President Donald Trump asked the people to listen to the local officers to stay safe from a very dangerous and intensifying hurricane. The evacuation process has been hit by the COVID-19 restrictions. As people have to maintain social distancing, it has become far more difficult for the authorities to take people to safer places in large numbers.