After coming ashore early Thursday as one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States in decades, Hurricane Laura continues to move inland as a downgraded Category 1 storm.
In its latest update, the National Hurricane Center says Laura has maximum sustained winds of 145 kilometers per hour, making it Category 1 strength on the five-level scale that measures a hurricane’s potential destructiveness.
Forecasters say Laura continues to bring damaging winds and flooding rainfall as it moves inland over western and central Louisiana. They say the storm is still generating a life-threatening storm surge along much of the Louisiana coastline.
The Associated Press quotes Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards as saying he has received a report of the first fatality from Hurricane Laura in Louisiana, a 14-year-old girl, who died when a tree fell on her home.
Video from the city of Lake Charles in southern Louisiana near where the storm first came ashore shows extensive property damage. But in an interview early Thursday on ABC television, Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Chief Peter Gaynor said the overall damage seems to be less than they feared, with Laura hitting the coast as a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane early Thursday.
Gaynor told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the surge of seawater was less than expected but he expects to find significant wind damage to buildings once they do proper surveys of the disaster area.
A statement from the White House Thursday said U.S. President Donald Trump had been briefed on the situation regarding Hurricane Laura and will continue to get updates on the storm. The statement said the president is committed to using the full resources of the federal government to bring aid and support to those effected by the storm.
Trump is scheduled to visit FEMA headquarters in Washington to get a briefing on the storm.
Laura is still predicted to soak parts of the U.S. South with massive rainfall as it moves inland and continues to weaken. It is expected to turn east and effect the mid-Atlantic coastline late this week.
Forecasters say it is possible remnants of Laura could strengthen once over the Atlantic Ocean, but some computer forecast models show it absorbed by a frontal boundary by that time.
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