Hurricane Laura struck southern Louisiana early this morning as a Cat 4 storm — one of the strongest to strike the Gulf Coast in decades — touching down around 1 a.m. near Cameron, La.
The storm weakened and was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane Thursday morning as it headed northward, but it still had sustained winds of more than 100 mph, according to The Washington Post.
In an 8 a.m. update, the National Weather Service tweeted that damaging winds and flooding rainfall were spreading inland over western and central Louisiana, and that life-threatening storm surge continues over much of the Louisiana coastline.
By that time, sustained winds were 58 mph with gusts of 86 mph.
The National Hurricane Center said hurricane-force winds could extend well inland over western Louisiana and east Texas on this morning; it also predicted widespread heavy rain across the west-central Gulf Coast with five to 10 inches — and locally up to 18 inches — leading to flash flooding, according to the Post.
The United Cajun Navy was loading up its cargo trucks Wednesday and preparing to dispatch its rescue boats to southwest Louisiana to respond to Laura, according to The Advocate.
The group has received fewer donations this year than usual due to the pandemic, and many volunteers with the group with boats were forced to evacuate themselves, United Cajun Navy head Todd Terrell told the publication, estimating that there were around 75 boats prepared for rescue efforts. As a comparison, there were 1,000 dispatched to Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
It was unclear this morning whether people needed to be rescued by boat, but flooding is expected to continue.