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Hurricane Laura kills 14-year-old girl when tree falls on her home as 150mph winds devastate Louisiana and Texas leaving 600,000 without power - and those who didn't evacuate are told 'write down your name and keep it in a ziplock bag in your pocket' (43 Pics)

Hurricane Laura has killed a 14-year-old girl after a tree fell on her home as the Category 4 storm system smashed into Texas and Louisiana with 150mph winds, leaving 600,000 without power as people who did not evacuate are told to write their names on a piece of paper and 'put it in a ziplock bag' in their pockets.  
The Category 4 monster made landfall at 1am with the strongest winds that Louisiana has seen since 1856 and warnings that the storm could rip apart buildings and penetrate up to 200 miles inland. 
Louisiana Gov John Bel Edwards reported that the state has one fatality from the hurricane, which became a Category 1 hurricane shortly after 9am. 
The storm's first victim, a 14 year old girl, died when a tree fell on her home in Vernon Parish, according to the governor's office. The office said they do expect more fatalities as the hurricane continues to pass through the state. 
'Now is not the time to go sightseeing. The threat #Laura poses to Louisiana is far from over,' Edwards tweeted Thursday morning. 'Stay home, continue to heed warnings from local officials and monitor your local news to stay informed,' he added.
Laura reached land near the small town of Cameron around 30 miles from the Texas border, where officials went door-to-door pleading with people to flee the path of the storm amid fears the entire parish will be inundated. 
The howling winds wreaked havoc in the town of Lake Charles early this morning, slamming into trees and buildings and collapsing a walkway at St Patrick Hospital as residents said their town was being 'destroyed'. 
In a statement, the Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana warned on Wednesday that anyone choosing not to evacuate 'must understand that rescue efforts cannot and will not begin until after storm and surge has passed and it is safe to do so'. 
'Please evacuate and if you choose to stay and we can't get to you, write your name, address, social security number and next of kin and put it a ziplock bag in your pocket. Praying that it does not come to this!' the sheriff's office said.   
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Hurricane Laura smashed into Texas and Louisiana as a Category 4 with 150mph winds, bringing devastation and leaving 500,000 without power early Thursday morning
Hurricane Laura smashed into Texas and Louisiana as a Category 4 with 150mph winds, bringing devastation and leaving 500,000 without power early Thursday morning 
People walk past a destroyed building after the passing of Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Thursday
People walk past a destroyed building after the passing of Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Thursday 
Reginald Duhon prepares to work at his home on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana, after Hurricane Laura moved through the state
Reginald Duhon prepares to work at his home on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana, after Hurricane Laura moved through the state
A street is seen strewn with debris and downed power lines after Hurricane Laura passed through Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Thursday
A street is seen strewn with debris and downed power lines after Hurricane Laura passed through Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Thursday 
A Lake Charles police officer helps clear the streets in the downtown area after Hurricane Laura passed through on August 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana . The hurricane hit with powerful winds causing extensive damage to the city
A Lake Charles police officer helps clear the streets in the downtown area after Hurricane Laura passed through on August 27, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana . The hurricane hit with powerful winds causing extensive damage to the city
An escalator is seen in a building that had its windows blown in the downtown area after Hurricane Laura passed through on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana
An escalator is seen in a building that had its windows blown in the downtown area after Hurricane Laura passed through on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana 
A building with its windows blown out is seen in the downtown area shortly after Hurricane Laura damaged other buildings in the area on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana
A building with its windows blown out is seen in the downtown area shortly after Hurricane Laura damaged other buildings in the area on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana 
A room that had its roof blown off is seen inside a hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Thursday
A room that had its roof blown off is seen inside a hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Thursday 
A person stands next to a hotel that had parts of its roof blown off as Hurricane Laura passed through the area on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana
A person stands next to a hotel that had parts of its roof blown off as Hurricane Laura passed through the area on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Mitch Pickering plays his guitar while walking through the downtown area after Hurricane Laura passed through on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Mitch Pickering plays his guitar while walking through the downtown area after Hurricane Laura passed through on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Footage showed torrents of rain flying sideways past street lights in Lake Charles, and streets covered with water closer to the coast, while glass fell from shattered windows and parts of a casino roof were torn away. 
A video journalist for the Washington Post reported that there's currently an 'unknown chemical leak' off I-10 and about three miles from Lake Charles, Louisiana. 
No other information was immediately available.  
Hurricane Laura is now pushing inland while the Gulf Coast faces storm surges and 10 inches of rain coupled with a high tide, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) says - while tornadoes could form at the edges of the weather system. 
Its center was moving north, about 20 miles north of Fort Polk, Louisiana. Damaging winds extended outward as far as 175 miles.
Dick Gremillion, the emergency director in Calcasieu Parish, said authorities were unable to get out to assess damage.
'The wind is still over 50mph. It's going to have to drop significantly before they can even run any emergency calls. We also need daylight,' Gremillion said in an interview with Lake Charles television station KPLC.
People walk past a destroyed building Thursday morning in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The hurricane is still moving through the state of Louisiana
People walk past a destroyed building Thursday morning in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The hurricane is still moving through the state of Louisiana
Debris is seen near a business on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura
Debris is seen near a business on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura
A cat walks through debris at Chris Johnson's home on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Johnson stayed in his home as the storm passed
A cat walks through debris at Chris Johnson's home on Thursday in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Johnson stayed in his home as the storm passed
James Sonya surveys what is left of his uncles barber shop after Hurricane Laura tore through Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Thursday
James Sonya surveys what is left of his uncles barber shop after Hurricane Laura tore through Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Thursday 
A woman walks down a street near damaged businesses in downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana,in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura
A woman walks down a street near damaged businesses in downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana,in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura
Latasha Myles and Howard Anderson stand in their living room where they were sitting when the roof blew off around 2.30am as Hurricane Laura passed through Lake Charles, Louisiana
Latasha Myles and Howard Anderson stand in their living room where they were sitting when the roof blew off around 2.30am as Hurricane Laura passed through Lake Charles, Louisiana 
Overturned trailers are seen in a field after Hurricane Laura passed through Welsh, Louisiana, on Thursday
Overturned trailers are seen in a field after Hurricane Laura passed through Welsh, Louisiana, on Thursday 
Guardsmen from the Louisiana National Guard were seen Thursday morning clearing debris after Hurricane Laura tore through Lake Charles
Guardsmen from the Louisiana National Guard were seen Thursday morning clearing debris after Hurricane Laura tore through Lake Charles 
The guardsmen are seen picking up what appears to be debris that was torn off a roof of a building in Lake Charles
The guardsmen are seen picking up what appears to be debris that was torn off a roof of a building in Lake Charles 
The guardsmen were also seen clearing debris from the Cougar Stadium in Lake Charles on Thursday
The guardsmen were also seen clearing debris from the Cougar Stadium in Lake Charles on Thursday  
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a 9am update that 'damaging winds and flooding rainfall spreading inland over western and central Louisiana'.
'Life-threatening storm surge continues along much of the Louisiana coastline.'
Texas officials will be lifting its evacuation order at 11am but they are urging residents who evacuated to allow them more time to assess roadways and clear debris. 
'There are several areas throughout our region who have no power at this time. Electrical crews need first priority. It is dangerous to drive on the roadways that have not been cleared. Downed power lines with live wires, downed trees and other random debris could cause you to get injured,' an update from Jefferson County's Office of Emergency Management reads. 
The city of Galveston has also lifted its evacuation order. Officials said the city 'did not sustain wind or storm damage, and water is receding in low-lying areas that experienced street flooding'.
Houston also reported being spared from much of the impact of Hurricane Laura. 
The Louisiana National Guard shared images of guardsmen working to clear roadways and assess damages from Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles. 
Despite the hurricane weakening, Ken Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center, warned that Laura is expected to remain a hurricane until it nearly reaches Arkansas. 
'We expect Hurricane Laura to still be a hurricane even when you get up to Shreveport, right on the Arkansas border,' Graham told CNN. 
White House officials said President Donald Trump will visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) later today to be briefed on Hurricane Laura. 
A street is seen strewn with debris and downed power lines after Hurricane Laura passed through the area on Lake Charles, Louisiana
A street is seen strewn with debris and downed power lines after Hurricane Laura passed through the area on Lake Charles, Louisiana 
A police car is seen next to a flooded underpass after Hurricane Laura passed through Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday
A police car is seen next to a flooded underpass after Hurricane Laura passed through Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday 
LA 1 (pictured) remains closed this morning south of the Leon Theriot Lock in Golden Meadow. There is no estimate of time of when the roadway will be reopened
LA 1 (pictured) remains closed this morning south of the Leon Theriot Lock in Golden Meadow. There is no estimate of time of when the roadway will be reopened
Flood waters are seen in Sabine Pass, Texas, on Thursday after Hurricane Laura passed through the area
Flood waters are seen in Sabine Pass, Texas, on Thursday after Hurricane Laura passed through the area 
More than 500,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas and Louisiana, as near-constant lightning provided the only light for some and debris flew into windshields and an RV toppled over in torrential rain. A downed power line is seen stretched across a road in Sabine Pass, Texas, on Thursday
More than 500,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas and Louisiana, as near-constant lightning provided the only light for some and debris flew into windshields and an RV toppled over in torrential rain. A downed power line is seen stretched across a road in Sabine Pass, Texas, on Thursday 
Flooding caused by Hurricane Laura is seen on Thursday morning in Sabine Pass, Texas
Flooding caused by Hurricane Laura is seen on Thursday morning in Sabine Pass, Texas
Flooding is seen in Sabine Pass, Texas, after Hurricane Laura passed through the area on Thursday morning
Flooding is seen in Sabine Pass, Texas, after Hurricane Laura passed through the area on Thursday morning 
A playground is flooded from Hurricane Laura in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday
A playground is flooded from Hurricane Laura in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday 
In a press statement, the White House said: 'As we begin to assess the damage, please continue to heed the warnings and instructions of your state and local officials as storm hazards will persist long after the storm has passed.
'Trump is committed to deploying the full resources of the Federal Government to rescue those in distress, support those in the region affected, and restore disruptions to our communities and infrastructure,' the statement reads. 
More than 600,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas and Louisiana, as near-constant lightning provided the only light for some and debris flew into windshields and an RV toppled over in torrential rain. According to poweroutage.us, more than 122,000 are without power in Texas and 480,000 in Louisiana. 
Officials said some stragglers were pleading for help after earlier refusing to evacuate - but 'there ain't no way to get them'. 
In Cameron Parish, where Laura came ashore, Nungesser said 50 to 150 people refused pleas to leave and planned to endure the storm, some in elevated homes and even recreational vehicles. The result could be deadly.
'It's a very sad situation,' said Ashley Buller, assistant director of emergency preparedness. 'We did everything we could to encourage them to leave.'
Drawing energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico, the system arrived in 'full beast mode' as the most powerful hurricane to strike the US so far this year and its effects are expected to be felt in Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas. 
With hours of violent weather ahead, officials said the extent of destruction likely wouldn't be clear until daybreak, when search and rescue missions will begin. 
Hurricane Laura blew parts of the Golden Nugget Casino's roof as it tore through the city of Lake Charles on Thursday.
Texas Gov Greg Abbott said major evacuations along coastal Texas ahead of Hurricane Laura 'no doubt saved lives'.
'The early reports are that there were no deaths,' Abbot said told CNN. 'One reason for that is because people did heed the warnings to evacuate.'
At 150mph, the hurricane's winds were the strongest to make landfall in Louisiana since the Last Island Hurricane of 1856, said meteorologist Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University. 
Hurricane Katrina came in at 125mph, although the 2005 storm which caused up to 1,800 deaths and $125billion  of damage was worse when measured by pressure. 
The winds took Laura close to the threshold of a Category 5 storm, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale and defined as sustained winds of 157mph or more.   
The storm damaged buildings in Lake Charles early on Thursday morning, wrecking a walkway at St Patrick Hospital
The storm damaged this building in Lake Charles
The Category 4 monster made landfall at 1am with the strongest winds that Louisiana has seen since 1856 and warnings that the storm could rip apart buildings and penetrate up to 200 miles inland. Two building that were damaged in Lake Charles, Louisiana, are pictured on Thursday

Hurricane Laura began to pummel Lake Charles, Louisiana late Wednesday, with powerful winds gusting over 70mph
Hurricane Laura began to pummel Lake Charles, Louisiana late Wednesday, with powerful winds gusting over 70mph
Landfall: Laura reached land near the small town of Cameron around 30 miles from the Texas border at 1am in Louisiana
Landfall: Laura reached land near the small town of Cameron around 30 miles from the Texas border at 1am in Louisiana  
'This is one of the strongest storms to impact that section of coastline,' said David Roth, a forecaster with the National Weather Service (NWS).
The NWS continued: 'We worry about that storm surge going so far inland there because it's basically all marshland north to Interstate 10. There is little to stop the water.' 
'It felt like we were experiencing an earthquake with dozens of aftershocks,' said CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman on the ground in Lake Charles, a city of 80,000 people. 
'It sounded like a combination of a Boeing 747 going down a runway and a freight train going down the track - it was so loud for hours.' 
There were gusts of 137mph in downtown Lake Charles and 127mph in Cameron, a WWLTV meteorologist said, with 95pmh winds in the Lacassine wildlife refuge and 73mph in Port Arthur, Texas. 
Torrential rain was also lashing Baton Rouge while flash floods were expected to continue in Alexandria, Opelousas and Pineville into the morning.  
Storm surges are expected along the Louisiana coast as the state braces for 10 inches of rain coupled with a high tide
Storm surges are expected along the Louisiana coast as the state braces for 10 inches of rain coupled with a high tide
Tornado warnings and watches have been issued for parts of Texas and Louisiana
Tornado warnings and watches have been issued for parts of Texas and Louisiana
NBC reporter Jay Gray was nearly knocked over by the wind this morning as he told Good Morning Britain viewers that 'the intensity of this early band from this storm is as strong as any that I've seen in recent memory,' before the broadcast was cut off for his safety. 
The storm grew nearly 87 per cent in power in just 24 hours to a size the National Hurricane Center called 'extremely dangerous', making it the powerful hurricane to strike the US so far this year. 
'It looks like it's in full beast mode, which is not what you want to see if you're in its way, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said. 
The storm surge could penetrate inland from between Freeport, Texas, and the mouth of the Mississippi River, and could raise water levels as high as 20 feet in parts of Cameron Parish, the NHC said.
Rescuers warned that floodwater may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.  
'Some areas, when they wake up Thursday morning, they're not going to believe what happened,' said Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist.
'What doesn't get blown down by the wind could easily get knocked down by the rising ocean waters pushing well inland.' 
People were today urged to take cover in a 'reinforced interior room away from windows', ideally 'under a table or other piece of sturdy furniture', to shield themselves from the 'life-threatening conditions'. 
'To think that there would be a wall of water over two stories high coming on shore is very difficult for most to conceive, but that is what is going to happen,' said NWS meteorologist Benjamin Schott at a news conference.  
'The word 'unsurvivable' is not one that we like to use, and it's one that I've never used before,' Schott said of the storm surge.
The National Weather Service in Lake Charles warned that some communities will be 'uninhabitable for weeks or months'.
Forecasters also warned hurricane-level winds could also blow as far as 200 miles inland to Shreveport, Louisiana, with hurricane warnings in place from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Intracostal City, Louisiana.  
The center of Laura is forecast to move over northwestern Louisiana Thursday, across Arkansas Thursday night, and over the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday.
After that, the storm will move eastwards with threats of flash flooding in the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers and the mid-Atlantic states on Friday and Saturday.   
As of 6am Thursday morning, Hurricane Laura slowed down from 150mph to 105mph as it tore through parts of Texas and Louisiana
As of 6am Thursday morning, Hurricane Laura slowed down from 150mph to 105mph as it tore through parts of Texas and Louisiana 
This graphic shows wind gusts from Hurricane Laura as it made landfall Thursday morning
This graphic shows wind gusts from Hurricane Laura as it made landfall Thursday morning 
Several coastal cities were still under hurricane warnings Thursday morning as the storm system made landfall
Several coastal cities were still under hurricane warnings Thursday morning as the storm system made landfall 
Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist, said: 'We could see storm surge heights more than 15 feet in some areas'
Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist, said: 'We could see storm surge heights more than 15 feet in some areas'
Flood warnings and watches were issued for several parts of Louisiana Thursday morning
Flood warnings and watches were issued for several parts of Louisiana Thursday morning 
More than 500,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas and Louisiana, as near-constant lightning provided the only light for some
More than 500,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas and Louisiana, as near-constant lightning provided the only light for some
Hurricane Laura is seen from the space station on Wednesday as it prepared to hit Texas and Louisiana
Hurricane Laura is seen from the space station on Wednesday as it prepared to hit Texas and Louisiana 
Ocean water topped by white-capped waves began rising ominously as the monster neared land on Wednesday afternoon. 
In the largest US evacuation since the pandemic began, more than half a million people were ordered Tuesday to flee from an area of the Gulf Coast along the Texas-Louisiana state line.
More than 420,000 residents were told to evacuate the Texas cities of Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur. 
Another 200,000 were ordered to leave the low-lying Calcasieu and Cameron parishes in southwestern Louisiana, where forecasters said as much as 13 feet of storm surge topped by waves could submerge whole communities.
Flash flood watches were issued for much of Arkansas, and forecasters said heavy rainfall could move to parts of Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky late Friday and Saturday. 
Forecasters in Little Rock, Arkansas said the remnants of the hurricane could bring up to six inches of rain and flash flooding affecting homes and businesses. 
Strong winds are also expected to affect Mississippi until Thursday evening while the tornado warnings also cover parts of the state.  
Reeling from the storm: Residents of Port-au-Prince, Haiti pictured cleaning up a street reduced to rubble from the passage of Tropical Storm Laura on Tuesday
Reeling from the storm: Residents of Port-au-Prince, Haiti pictured cleaning up a street reduced to rubble from the passage of Tropical Storm Laura on Tuesday
A man removes mud outside of a store in Haiti that was decimated by Laura, then a tropical storm, before it upgraded to a hurricane on Tuesday
A man removes mud outside of a store in Haiti that was decimated by Laura, then a tropical storm, before it upgraded to a hurricane on Tuesday
Laura's arrival comes just days before the August 29 anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which breached the levees in New Orleans, flattened much of the Mississippi coast and killed as many as 1,800 people in 2005. 
Laura also imperiled a center of the US energy industry. The government said 84 per cent of Gulf oil production and an estimated 61 per cent of natural gas production were shut down. Nearly 300 platforms have been evacuated. 
When Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017 there were oil and chemical spills, along with heavy air pollution from petrochemical plants and refineries.
While oil prices often spike before a major storm as production slows, consumers are unlikely to see big price changes because the pandemic has already decimated demand for fuel. 
Laura passed Cuba and Hispaniola, where it killed nearly two dozen people, including 20 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic.
The deaths reportedly included a 10-year-old girl whose home was hit by a tree and a mother and young son crushed by a collapsing wall.
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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