Hurricane Laura pounded the Gulf Coast with ferocious wind and torrential rain and unleashed a wall of seawater that could push 40 miles inland as the Category 4 storm roared ashore Thursday in Louisiana near the Texas border.
Laura battered a tall building in Lake Charles, blowing out windows as glass and debris flew to the ground. Police spotted a floating casino that came unmoored and hit a bridge. But hours after the hurricane made landfall, the wind and rain were still blowing too hard for authorities to check for survivors.
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Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate ahead of the hurricane, but not everyone fled from the area, which was devastated by Hurricane Rita in 2005.
“There are some people still in town, and people are calling … but there ain’t no way to get to them,” Tony Guillory, president of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, said over the phone from a Lake Charles government building that was shaking from the storm.
Guillory said he hoped the stranded people could be rescued later in the day, but he feared that blocked roads, downed power lines and floodwaters could get in the way.
“We know anyone that stayed that close to the coast, we’ve got to pray for them, because looking at the storm surge, there would be little chance of survival,” Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told ABC’s Good Morning America.
With nearly 470,000 homes and businesses without power in the two states, near-constant lightning provided the only light for some.
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The National Hurricane Center said Laura slammed the coast with winds of 150 mph at 1 a.m. CDT near Cameron, a 400-person community about 30 miles east of the Texas border. Forecasters had warned that the storm surge would be “unsurvivable” and the damage “catastrophic.”
They predicted a storm surge of 15 to 20 feet in Port Arthur, Texas, and a stretch of Louisiana including Lake Charles, a city of 80,000 people on Lake Calcasieu.
The Associated Press contributed to this article