With forceful winds and rain - Hurricane Laura lashed southwestern Louisiana, Thursday, destroying buildings in the city of Lake Charles, spawning a massive fire at a chemical plant, and killing at least four people.
EDWARDS: “This was the most powerful storm to ever make landfall in Louisiana.”
Laura slammed the coast as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. But Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said it could have been much worse.
"We did not sustain and suffer the absolute catastrophic damage that we thought was likely based on the forecast we had last night. But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage. We have thousands and thousands of our fellow citizens whose lives are upside down..."
Thousands of residents have property damage and are without power.
Especially hard hit: Lake Charles
Buildings collapsed… Trees and power lines came crashing down… and the windows of the city's 22-floor Capital One Tower were blown out.
Just four miles west of Lake Charles - black smoke billowed into the sky due to a chemical plant catching fire in Laura’s wake.
The governor told local residents to shelter in place:
“Despite the heat that they’re experiencing, shelter at home under those circumstances means they need to be on the inside of their home with the doors and windows closed with the air conditioning off if they’re lucky to have electricity.”
In neighboring Texas, Governor Greg Abbott - who toured damaged areas to his state on Thursday - said the coastal counties that had braced for the worst were largely spared Laura’s rage.
“Everyone pretty much had the same phrase and that is we dodged a bullet, that could have been far worse.”
Laura has since become a tropical storm.
But that's of little comfort to residents in both states whose lives have been turned upside down.