After causing widespread devastation across Louisiana, Laura is leaving pockets of damage as it moves inland across Arkansas into the Lower Ohio Valley.
After coming ashore as a strong Category 4 hurricane at 1 a.m. CDT Thursday, Laura ravaged southern Louisiana.
The worst damage appeared to be in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, but it extended far from the coast. In many areas, assessment teams have been unable to survey the damage from the ground.
Four people were killed by falling trees in Louisiana, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. Two deaths, also in Louisiana, were a man who died of carbon monoxide while running a generator inside his residence and another who drowned when a boat sank during the storm, the Associated Press reported. Laura also killed 23 people in the Caribbean.
More than half a million Louisiana homes and businesses remained without electricity Thursday morning, according to poweroutage.us. Another 240,000 customers in Texas and Arkansas had no power.
“Pretty much devastating,” is how Tim Dupont, fire chief in the town of Cameron, Louisiana, described the scene during a phone call with weather.com. “Basically there’s not much left and they’re just waiting for an opportunity to go back down there and see what they can collect.”
The deaths from falling trees in Louisiana occurred in Vernon, Jackson and Acadia parishes, all well inland from the coast, the governor said in a news conference. Jackson Parish is more than 200 miles from where Laura came ashore.
Lake Charles, in Calcasieu Parish, saw extensive damage. Windows blew out of skyscrapers, a TV tower collapsed, dozens and dozens of homes and businesses lost roofs and walls. Trees were down everywhere.
Meanwhile, across Lake Charles, a large fire at a chemical plant forced residents to shelter inside with windows and doors closed and air conditioners turned off.
Laura was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Arkansas, but it still caused flooding, knocked down trees and spawned possible tornadoes.
Homes were damaged in Bradley, Calhoun and Ouachita counties, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Trees were down in many Arkansas counties and some structures were damaged, said Melody Daniel, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management. She said three homes were damaged in Bradley County and one home was damaged in both Calhoun and Ouachita counties.
A tree fell through the roof of a home in Little Rock in Pulaski County, KARK reported. A falling tree also damaged a home in Woodruff County, and another in Cleveland County caused significant damage to a home there. Trees were down in Hot Spring, Grant, Clark and Drew counties, according to KARK.
A possible tornado tore a section of roof off the Refuge Baptist Church in Lake City, 15 miles east of Jonesboro. The storm also ruptured a gas line, Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley told The Associated Press. No injuries were reported.
In Jonesboro, rescue crews had to free a woman trapped when a tree limb fell on her mobile home, Presley said.
He said major roof damage also was reported in Goobertown, northeast of Jonesboro.
Texas appeared to have escaped widespread damage, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release.
“While we are grateful that the damage of Hurricane Laura was far less severe than expected, many communities in Southeast Texas have experienced significant damage from this storm,” Abbott said.
The governor surveyed the damage in Orange, Texas, along the Sabine River on the border with Louisiana, which was one of the hardest-hit areas.
Mayor Larry Spears told KTRK trees were down, streets were littered with debris and some businesses lost roofs, but he expected much worse.