Hurricane Laura slams Gulf Coast killing atleast one as it forges inland
BEAUMONT, Texas (Reuters) - Hurricane Laura barreled through southwest Louisiana, destroying buildings in the city of Lake Charles and killing a 14-year-old girl after making landfall early on Thursday as one of the most powerful storms to hit the state.
The hurricane’s first reported U.S. fatality was a 14-year-old girl in Leesville, Louisiana, who died when a tree fell on her house, a spokeswoman for Governor John Bel Edwards said.
“We do expect that there could be more fatalities,” the spokeswoman, Christina Stephens, said on Twitter.
Residents of Lake Charles heard Laura’s winds howling and the sound of breaking glass as the storm passed through the city of 78,000 with winds of 85 miles per hour (137 km per hour) and gusts up to 128 mph (206 kph) in the hour after landfall.
The windows of the city’s 22-floor Capital One Tower were blown out, street signs were toppled and pieces of wooden fence and debris from collapsed buildings lay scattered in the streets, video footage on Twitter and Snapchat showed.
Lake Charles resident Borden Wilson, a 33-year-old pediatrician, was anxiously anticipating his return home after evacuating to Minden, Louisiana.
“I never even boarded up my windows. I didn’t think to do that. This is the first hurricane I’ve experienced. I just hope my house is fine,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Laura made landfall just before 1 a.m. as a Category 4 storm packing winds of 150 mph (240 kph) in the small town of Cameron, Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
It rapidly weakened to a Category 2 storm Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph), and was forecast to become a tropical storm later in the day.
However, the NHC warned that the threat of a possibly deadly storm surge would continue along the Louisiana coast as Laura moved north and then northeast.