It fell to Category 1 status shortly after 9 a.m. ET Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Laura kills 14-year-old, weakens into Category 1 storm
In Lake Charles, a town of 80,000 people on Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana, residents have been warned that their town could be directly affected.
The story continues under the ad
As dawn rose early Thursday and the eye of the storm passed, the extent of the damage became clear.
Videos posted to social media by local media and weather media showed homes almost entirely underwater, with shingles ripped from rooftops and downed trees scattered throughout neighborhoods.
The tall Capital One building in Lake Charles was left with gaping holes where the glass windows were. Lights twinkled from the inside and curtains rippled between the broken windows as the sun began to rise on Thursday.
At the height of the storm, videos posted on Twitter showed extreme winds and rain hitting the city. Signs and trees fluttered in the force of the wind, vehicles were overturned and debris hung over the roads.
Louisiana appears to have suffered most of the weather so far, but the center of the storm continues to move across the state and the Texas-Louisiana border.
Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate before the hurricane, but not everyone did. Hours after the storm made landfall, the rain and wind were still too strong for authorities in Louisiana to verify who decided to stay.
Officials hoped to reach those stranded later Thursday, but fears of flood waters and downed power lines could hamper efforts.
“There are still people in town, and people are calling… but there is no way to reach them,” Tony Guillory, chairman of the Calcasieu parish police jury, said by phone to The Associated. Press during the storm.
The National Hurricane Center had predicted an “insurvable” storm surge of 15 to 20 feet in the Port Arthur, Texas area and in a strip of Louisiana, which included Lake Charles. A seawater wall could also be pushed up to 40 miles inland, forecasters said.
British Columbia reports 62 new coronavirus cases, number of active cases decreases
Ontario Reports 118 New Coronavirus Cases, 1 Death; total cases to 41813
The rising waters quickly landed at Port Arthur. Flash flood warnings remain in place over much of the region, as well as in many towns and communities further inland.
Hundreds of thousands of people also remain without power in Louisiana and Texas.
Forecasters expect the weakened hurricane to continue to cause widespread flooding in areas far from the coast.
In Texas, the damage was not as severe.
Photos posted online show streets flooded and downed trees and power lines, but nothing to the extent of the damage assessed so far in Louisiana.
However, early reports indicate that Laura’s damage was less than initially feared.
FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor told ABC Hello america that the storm surge was less intense than expected, although officials still predict serious damage to the buildings once a proper survey of the disaster area can be carried out.
On Thursday morning, the storm swept through southwest Louisiana. Forecasters expect it to continue north across the state through the afternoon, with the center of the storm set to hover over Arkansas on Thursday evening and the Valley of the Mississippi Friday.
Hurricane Laura: half a million people on mandatory evacuation notice on US Gulf of Mexico coast
The mid-Atlantic states will see the brunt of the storm on Saturday, they said.
Heavy rain, high winds, and even tornadoes are possible Thursday and Friday across Louisiana, Arkansas and western Mississippi.
– with files from the Associated Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.