Hurricane Laura updates: Some Acadiana curfews extended due to power outages
Hurricane Laura barreled ashore overnight as a powerful Category 4 hurricane near Cameron, Louisiana, causing widespread damage, outages and storm surge.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm's sustained winds measured at 150 mph, just short of reaching Category 5 storm status, as it moved slowly across the southwestern and western part of the state and Texas.
Laura weakened to a tropical storm and was flooding raining and tropical storm force winds over portions of Arkansas about 4 p.m., according to the National Hurricane Center.
Four deaths have been attributed to the storm.
The USA TODAY Network - Louisiana is deployed across the state to cover the damage and impacts in our communities. All timestamps are central time. For more Hurricane Laura updates, follow us on Twitter at @theadvertiser.
Hurricane Laura has resulted in the loss of almost 400 blood donations due to blood drive cancellations and the closing of donation centers, according to blood service provider Vitalant.
In response to Laura, Vitalant’s donation centers will open Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its Lafayette (1503 Bertrand Drive), Baton Rouge (8234 One Calais) and Morgan City (1234 David Dr. #102) donation centers. Normal center hours will resume Saturday.
To effectively uphold social distancing standards, appointments are strongly encouraged. Face coverings that cover both nose and mouth are required for all donors and staff.
Schedule appointments travel at Vitalant.org or call 1-877-25-VITAL (258-4825). Donations of all blood types are needed.
5 p.m. Thursday: New Iberia extends city curfew
New Iberia will continue its city-wide curfew Thursday night due to power outages. The curfew is from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. If extended again, the city will issue another release.
Emergency personnel will be allowed on the roadways during the set curfew times. The New Iberia Police Department reminds citizens to stay safe throughout the aftermath of the storm.
The non-emergency number for the New Iberia Police Department is (337) 369-2306
3:30 p.m. Thursday: Iota man killed during Hurricane Laura identified; Acadia Parish curfew continues
An Acadia Parish resident was the second fatality attributed to Hurricane Laura. Jimmy Cart, 68, died when a tree fell and struck his home in the 3500 block of the Eunice-Iota Highway just north of Iota, Sheriff K.P. Gibson confirmed.
Flooding did not appear to be an issue for Acadia in this storm, but Laura’s wind clearly took a toll. Leaves and tree limbs were scattered across Crowley, Midland and Mermentau on Thursday, and some large trees had fallen in yards, across roads and on houses.
The parish’s curfew continues Thursday from dusk until dawn due to the high percentage of power outages, Gibson said in a Facebook update. Church Point is not included in this curfew, because power has been restored there.
Acadia Parish cities seemed to sustain only minor damage from strong winds brought by Hurricane Laura, but thousands remained without power Thursday afternoon.
Most homes and businesses in Crowley, the parish seat, appeared to be without electricity, and every stoplight was out.
Energy companies SLEMCO, Entergy and Cleco reported 22,458 customers still without power Thursday afternoon.
2:41 p.m. Thursday: 'Worse than Rita’: After Lake Charles, Beauregard Parish was next in Hurricane Laura’s path of destruction
DERIDDER, La. — As dawn broke Thursday morning, the sound of generators filled the air and Rick Atteberry was able to see for the first time the damage Hurricane Laura had wrought.
Marietta Jenkins’ house had two trees bent downward through the roof.
Across the street from Atteberry, a tall pine had sliced through the brick wall of a house his neighbors, the Loftons, had been renovating for a year.
“I already called him and told him he’s got problems. It went right through the bricks,” Atteberry said.
Hurricane Laura promised record flooding and an “unsurvivable” storm surge along Louisiana’s southwest coast. But 100 miles inland in Beauregard Parish, it was the storm’s ferocious winds that did all the damage.
In a parish where the forestry industry creates $123 million in income annually, an incomprehensible amount of trees blocked roads, smashed homes and downed power lines.
In the parish seat of DeRidder, the gusts wrenched sheet metal from steel beams and many mistook the whistle of the wind for the sound of sirens.
“There was a roaring all night long,” said DeRidder resident Edward Bonilla. “This is a disaster. It looks like a bomb exploded here. It’s much, much worse than Rita. Everybody has trees in their homes.”
The eye of Hurricane Laura hit Beauregard Parish between 3-4 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. The storm brought sustained winds of 120 mph and between 6-8 inches of rain. There were no deaths or injuries reported in DeRidder, Mayor Misty Clanton said. Thirty minutes north in Leesville, La., a toppled tree claimed the life of a 14-year-old.
As the eyewall hit Thursday morning, forester Wesley Taylor walked outside waving a spotlight in the darkness, attempting to gauge how many trees he’d lose.
He thought he’d lose about seven. When morning came, he found he had lost at least 40.
“I have 30 acres of pine timber. Well, it was pine timber,” Taylor said.
But his house luckily emerged unscathed. So Taylor and his friends grabbed chainsaws, jumped in their tractors, and drove through backyards to clear paths for those trapped in nearby neighborhoods.
“I’d say it’s twice as bad as Rita,” Taylor said. “This is going to be very devastating for the area.”
St. Landry Parish officials extended a mandatory curfew Thursday to clear area roads, but officials were relieved to find that the parish appeared to escape significant impacts from Hurricane Laura.
Interim parish President Jessie Bellard said he was surprised the parish apparently escaped significant personal and property damage as Laura swept through St. Landry for several hours before sunrise.
Bellard said he knows of no deaths or injuries in St. Landry caused by Laura.
The National Weather Service Lake Charles tweeted that shelter in place warnings remain in effect until further notice for the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur areas in Calcasieu Parish due to an ongoing chemical fire.
Louisiana State Police are responding to the event have shut down areas of Interstate 10 near the fire at Bio Labs.
12:10 p.m. Thursday: New Iberia sees minor damage, power outages after Hurricane Laura
New Iberia appears to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Laura, though the storm has left parts of the city without power.
Aside from a few pockets of water and some small limbs in yards, the city’s Main Street showed little sign of damage. Few residents were outside Thursday morning.
During Hurricane Barry in 2019, the area saw more significant damage, with large limbs and downed power lines along portions of the road.
A woman was fatally shot near the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin overnight Thursday after a fight broke out among Hurricane Laura evacuees, Austin police said.
Police responded around 12:30 a.m. after receiving multiple 911 calls about a fight involving around 60 people near the intersection of Sixth and Brazos streets, reports The Austin Statesman.
Investigators found that two groups of Hurricane Laura evacuees, one from Port Arthur and another from Beaumont, got into an argument, causing a large fight on Sixth Street.
People in both groups pulled out handguns and one fired, hitting a woman nearby who was not involved in the fight, police said.
When officers arrived, the woman, who police have not publicly identified, was found with a gunshot wound. She was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 1:03 a.m., police said.
11:55 p.m. Thursday: Video shows 'structures obliterated' in Hackerry, La., after Hurricane Laura
Meteorologist and storm chaster Reed Timmer shared a video Thursday morning of "terrible devastation in Hackberry," a town in Cameron Parish. He said there was mainly wind damage but also evidence of strong storm surge, and "weaker structures [were] obliterated."
11:45 a.m. Thursday: Laura brings down Lake Charles radio tower
Hurricane Laura caused major damage to a radio tower in downtown Lake Charles, with photos on Twitter showing "crumpled."
Acadia Parish Sheriff K.P. Gibson confirmed that a 60-year-old man also died from a fallen tree in Iota, according to WLBT. The Governor's Office confirmed earlier that a 14-year-old girl died after a tree fell on her family home in Leesville.
Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to hold a press conference at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Delcambre, a town in Vermilion and Iberia parishes known for its annual Shrimp Festival, saw flooding in many of its side streets Thursday after Hurricane Laura passed through overnight.
There were few people about, as the area was under mandatory evacuation as a low-lying area.
The curfew for Lafayette Parish was extended and will go into effect at 8 p.m. Thursday and lift at 6 a.m. Friday.
"The curfew will help keep roads clear to allow crews to safely work while cleaning up storm debris," accord to a press release from Lafayette Consolidated Government.
A fire has broken out on the west side of Lake Charles, causing gases and smoke to plume over I-10.
The fire seems to have erupted at a chemical plant site or oil refinery, according to multiple reports on social media.
LUS Fiber and Cox crews were working to restore Internet and phone services in Lafayette.
Less than 5% of LUS Fiber customers were impacted, according to a release. Power outages could contribute to interruptions.
Cox has asked customers not to stack storm debris directly under power lines or next to pedestal boxes as that could delay restoration services.
A Confederate South's Defenders Monument in Lake Charles was knocked down by Hurricane Laura's winds.
As Hurricane Laura continues to travel north through Louisiana to Arkansas, strong winds were being reported across Louisiana. State Police tweeted video showing the wind whipping a flag and said it showed "dangerous driving conditions."
Laura was about 65 miles south-southeast of Shreveport at the time and had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.
Interstate 10 remained closed Thursday morning. The major thruway was shut down from the Texas-Louisiana border to the Atchafalaya River Basin in both directions.
Motorists can detour to Interstate 20 using US 61, Interstate 55 and Interstate 59.
President Donald Trump is "closely monitoring" Hurricane Laura and has spoken with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, according to a tweet from White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
A 14-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell on her Leesville home.
Reporter Cory Smith reports that "almost all roads in Lake Charles are impassable" Thursday morning, as Laura left behind "catastrophic damage."
8:05 a.m. Thursday: Storm chaser reports 'harrowing night' in Sulphur, La., as Laura hit
Aaron Jayjack, a storm chaser with MyRadar Weather Radar and Forecasts, said "power poles snapped everywhere; walls of buildings down; sheet metal strewn everywhere" in Sulphur, a city west of Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish.
See damage from Hurricane Laura across Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish.
7:45 a.m. Thursday: See damage across Lake Charles after Laura
Damage in Lake Charles is being reported on social media early Thursday morning after Hurricane Laura made landfall with major winds.
Photos shared on Twitter early Thursday morning show Abbeville in Vermilion Parish sustained damage from Hurricane Laura, including downed trees, broken electric poles and peeled metal roofing. KATC reports about 70% of the parish is without power.
Photos on Twitter reveal storm damage early Thursday morning in Orange, Texas, a town along Interstate 10 near the Texas-Louisiana border.
Windows are shattered in homes and businesses, roofs damaged and trees and power lines downed after Hurricane Laura made landfall.
7:30 a.m. Thursday: Motel in Lake Charles appears to be a 'partial collapse' after Laura
Video on social media of Motel 6 on the Bayou in Lake Charles shows it sustained major damage from Hurricane Laura's wind early Thursday morning, the reporter calling it a "partial collapse."
The Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff's Office reports "widespread damage, downed trees and power lines" in the southwest Louisiana parish early Thursday morning following landfall of Hurricane Laura.
Residents are urged to stay off the roads unless for emergency.
A video on Twitter shows the major damage to the Capitol One Tower in downtown Lake Charles. Most of the windows of the glass skyscraper have been shattered after intense wind from Hurricane Laura, which crossed Cameron and Calcasieu parishes overnight.
The tower, then the Hibernia Bank Tower, also sustained damage during Hurricane Rita in 2005 but perhaps not to this extent on the exterior. At the time KPLC reported the building had "extensive first floor damage and some windows blown out."
A video early Thursday morning show damage to L'Auberge Casino Resort, located on Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish, after Hurricane Laura passed through with strong winds overnight.
Meteorologists and reporters are sharing photos Thursday morning of damage across Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish following the overnight landfall of the major Category 4 Hurricane Laura.
The hurricane had powerful winds while it moved across Lake Charles, about 30 miles inland from the coast where the storm made landfall near Cameron.
It sheared off building roofs and debris could be seen flying through the city’s streets after midnight. As the sun rises, expect to see visual reports from south of Interstate 10 near the coast and Cameron.
By 6 a.m. the storm had 105 mph winds and was a Category 2 storm. More than half million people were without power.
5:55 a.m. Thursday: What Hurricane Laura looked like when it made landfall, came across Lake Charles
When Laura made landfall early Thursday morning, powerful winds ripped roofs off buildings, including the Golden Nugget hotel in Lake Charles.
Videos from metereologists and storm chasers throughout southwestern Louisiana captured the destruction and high winds. See those videos here.
Meanwhile, this video shows the roof coming off the Golden Nugget.
About 115,000 homes and businesses in Acadiana were without power as Hurricane Laura continued to push north early Thursday morning.
Statewide, nearly 275,000 households were reported as having power outages.
Hurricane conditions continue to spread inland across southwest Louisiana as Hurricane Laura has downgraded to a Category 2 storm with winds of 110 mph. This is still a very dangerous, strong storm inland with devastating storm surge and flash flooding across two states, including Texas.
Beauregard Regional Airport in DeRidder, about 45 miles north of Lake Charles, recorded a wind gust of 82 mph.