Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, in the early hours of Thursday morning as a category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, causing a flood surge and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. The exact toll of the storm may not be known for days, but by early Thursday it had already caused one death when a 14-year-old girl was killed by a falling tree.
The storm surge reached more than 9 feet in Cameron. Southwestern Louisiana consists of bayous and lakes with numerous low-lying communities but has low population density. The nearest city, Lake Charles, is 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and sits 15 feet above sea level. Flood surge in Lake Charles was almost 5 feet. Almost all roads in Lake Charles were impassable with trees and downed powerlines blocking traffic.
Authorities pleaded with Cameron’s residents to evacuate ahead of the storm, but about 150 people chose to stay. Because of the flooding, authorities don’t expect to perform any rescues until Friday or Saturday.
As of noon Thursday, the center of the storm was east of Shreveport, Louisiana, with wind gusts of over 60 miles per hour. Trees and powerlines were reported down all over the city.
Laura is considered an inland flood risk as far as Arkansas and the Ohio and Tennessee valleys with heavy rain and isolated tornadoes a possibility.