Hurricane Laura: ‘Unsurvivable’ Cat 4 storm to spark 20ft ‘wall of water’ – 150mph winds

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Hurricane Laura has made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana as a category 4 storm. The hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 150 miles (240 kilometres) per hour is located about 40 miles (70 km) east of Port Arthur, Texas and is expected to move inland across southwestern Louisiana on Thursday morning, the NHC said. NBC correspondent Jay Gray has warned of a “20ft wall of water”.  

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Gray said: “The real-time conditions on the ground here are intensifying dramatically by the minute at this point.

“This storm is close to making landfall and what we’re seeing right now is the rain picking up.

“We’ve had some pretty severe gusts over the last 20 or 30 minutes and this is really just the beginning of what is going to be a very rough 24 hours.

“This is a massive Category 4 hurricane. It’s bringing with a foot or more of rain in some of these low-lying areas.

“The wind gusts will be over 150mph at times and on top of all that, it is going to bring a wall of water 20ft high or higher.

“It’s going to push inland 30 miles or more.

“The National Hurricane Centre, the first time they’ve used this term, they said it’s an unsurvivable storm surge.”

The oil-refining town of Port Arthur was directly in Laura’s path, the NHC forecast. The city of 54,000 was a ghost town on Wednesday afternoon, with just a couple of gas stations and a liquor store open for business.

Eric Daw, a 58-year-old Port Arthur resident, filled up his car at the Fuel Depot.

He said he had wanted to evacuate earlier but lacked money for gas as he was waiting on a disability payment.

He was headed to a shelter in San Antonio, a four and a half-hour drive, where instead of worrying about the storm he has to contend with COVID-19, echoing concerns of many others.

He said: “They say we are all supposed to socially distance now.

“But how am I supposed to socially distance in a shelter?”

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More than 620,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders in Louisiana and Texas.

Temporary housing was being hastily organized outside the storm surge zone for evacuated residents, and emergency teams were being strategically positioned, state and federal emergency management agencies said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said his state’s National Guard was in place with high-water vehicles and rescue helicopters.

While Houston earlier in the week feared that Laura would deliver a direct hit to the fourth-largest US city, the storm has shifted east and Houston, which was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, looked likely to escape the worst of it.

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