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Hurricane Laura knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of utility customers in Louisiana and Texas and forced thousands to evacuate.
As of 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday, 553,931 customers were without power in Louisiana, and in Texas, 137,376 people were in the dark, according to the tracking site poweroutage.us.
The storm is moving inland through southwestern Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph on Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.
Hurricane Laura smacked into the Texas-Louisiana coast Wednesday night, making landfall as a Category 4 storm that brought catastrophic storm surge and flash flooding. Forecasters expect Laura to move into Arkansas this evening.
In the southeast Texas counties of Jefferson and Orange, which straddle the Louisiana border, more than 100,000 people were without power Thursday morning, according to energy provider Entergy. The southwestern Louisiana parishes of Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis also saw over 100,000 customers without power.
Ahead of the storm, around 10,000 people evacuated Texas, mostly along the southeast coast and the border with Louisiana, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told ABC’s Good Morning America. He emphasized that those early evacuations saved lives.
“It could have been a lifesaver,” he said. “That may be one reason why we don’t have any reports of loss of life yet.”
In Louisiana, officials expressed concerns that not enough people evacuated coastal areas. Many people who built up their homes to 15 feet after Hurricane Rita probably thought they would be safe, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told ABC.
At least 150 people in Cameron Parish refused to leave the area after officers went door-to-door urging some 7,000 residents to get out, the Houston Chronicle reported. The NHC said storm surge there was projected to reach 20 feet.