Hurricane Laura makes landfall in Louisiana with winds of 150 mph | World news

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Hurricane Laura, the strongest hurricane to hit the United States this year, made landfall in southwest Louisiana as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm, raising fears it could overwhelm the low-lying coastal communities with ocean water.The National Hurricane Center said early Thursday that the storm hit Cameron in Louisiana, near the Texas border, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.

Forecasters said the storm surge could reach 6 meters in depth and not survive.

Authorities had previously pleaded with coastal residents of Texas and Louisiana to evacuate, but many did not, before howling winds began to shake trees in an area that was devastated by Hurricane Rita in 2005.

Images on social media showed torrents of rain rushing sideways past the Charles Lake lampposts and water-covered streets closer to the coast.

With hours of severe weather ahead, officials said the extent of the destruction would not be clear until dawn, when search and rescue missions began.

The storm system arrived at high tide, drawing energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico.

University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said, “It looks like he’s in beast mode, which isn’t what you want to see if you’re in his way.”

Officials said at least 150 people had rejected calls to leave and planned to weather the storm in everything from raised houses to recreational vehicles in the coastal parish of Cameron.

“It’s a very sad situation,” said Ashley Buller, deputy director of emergency preparedness. “We did everything we could to encourage them to leave.”

A Category 4 hurricane can render large areas uninhabitable for weeks or months and cut off power for just as long. The threat of such devastation has posed a new disaster relief challenge for a government already under pressure under the coronavirus pandemic.

Parts of Louisiana that were under evacuation orders included areas with high rates of Covid-19.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his Louisiana counterpart John Bel Edwards feared the dire predictions might not resonate with the public, despite authorities putting more than 500,000 coastal residents on mandatory evacuation orders.

Hurricane warnings were issued from the San Luis Pass in Texas to Intracoastal City in Louisiana, and reached inland for 200 miles. Storm surge warnings extended from Freeport, Texas to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Donald Trump tweeted that coastal residents should heed the advice of officials.

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