‘People need their vodka’: Residents and businesses riding out Hurricane Laura despite ‘catastrophic storm surge’ warnings


Hurricane Laura has made landfall in southwestern Louisiana, east of the Texas border, as an “extremely dangerous” category four storm with 150mph winds.

Catastrophic storm surges and winds are expected as Laura – the most powerful hurricane to strike the US this year so far – rips towards the coastlines.

In just 24 hours the storm grew nearly 90% in power, prompting forecasters to warn even stronger winds were possible that could tear apart buildings, fell trees and toss vehicles like toys.

Hurricane Isaias approaches North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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More than half a million people were ordered to leave their homes near the Texas-Louisiana state line, and around 100,000 households and businesses are without power in both states.

Tornado warnings have also been issued – with video and photos on social media showing torrential rain battering the street lights of Lake Charles, a city in southwest Louisiana, and areas covered with water closer to the coast.

“This is shaping up to be just a tremendous storm,” Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards told The Weather Channel.

A Category four hurricane can cause severe damage that may have lasting impacts for months in some places, and wide areas could be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

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So far Hurricane Hanna, in July, and Hurricane Isaias, earlier this month, have impacted the States this season, as well as tropical storms Bertha, Cristobal, Fay and Marco – making Laura a record seventh named storm to hit the US.

The hurricane made landfall on Saturday but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the state was closing Interstate 10 from around the Atchafalaya Bridge outside of Lafayette, into part of Texas, because several stretches are expected to flood.

In a radio interview on Wednesday night, he talked of the “apocalyptic” language that meteorologists had been using to describe the storm and its impact.

He said: “The language I’ve heard from the National Weather Service I’ve never heard before… They’re sending the strongest possible message about how serious this storm is.”

However, some residents were reluctant to leave their properties before Laura struck.

At least 150 people refused to evacuate the coastal Louisiana parish of Cameron – despite warnings it could be could be flooded.

Forecasters said Gulf waters could rise 20ft along the coast of the low-lying parish.

Mr Edwards said: “They’re thinking Cameron Parish is going to look like an extension of the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days.”

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