ABOVE: CBN News Contributor Chuck Holton is in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and gave viewers a look at Hurricane Laura early this morning as the storm passed through.
One of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the US is moving North and East after pounding the Gulf Coast. Laura has now been downgraded to a tropical storm after slamming Louisiana with 150 mph winds this morning and leaving hurricane damage for hundreds of miles.
First light revealed the devastating damage: Streets flooded, power lines toppled, homes destroyed, and trucks tossed like toys.
At least four people were killed by falling trees in Louisiana.
Brett Geymann in Moss Bluff, just north of Lake Charles, said his family's OK but “there's destruction all around".
“It looks like 1,000 tornadoes" came through, he said, with some houses “totally gone.”
The destruction extended West across the state line from Louisiana into Texas.
A large chemical fire has sent a potentially dangerous cloud over Lake Charles, Louisiana, and residents were being advised to shelter in place.
Over half a million people in Texas and Louisiana were forced to evacuate as Laura rapidly strengthened into a catastrophic Category 4 storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said for some areas the evacuations "could have been a lifesaver."
Officials had warned of a possible 20-foot storm surge that would be "unsurvivable". Thankfully, it now appears it didn't reach that high, reaching to roughly an 11-foot surge instead.
FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said, "I think we're in a fortunate place when we think about surge. I think it was less than we had forecasted but we'll see significant wind damage to buildings and structures."
Ashley Thomas and her family rode out the storm at home. She said, "We got our family under the kitchen table and after being under the table for about 5 minutes we lost our roof."
Louisiana Lt. Governor Bill Nungesser said he spoke to a family about 50 miles from the coast and they said they will never ride out a storm again. "They were fearing for their lives about 3:30 in the morning."
It was a storm so powerful, Laura was still at hurricane strength even after traveling 170 miles inland.
Hundreds of thousands are now without power, as a large number of emergency vehicles were seen on I-10, heading for the worst damaged areas.
The full extent of the damage is still coming into focus as Laura moves out of the region.
But Operation Blessing Disaster Relief teams are already at work. An assessment team has arrived in Louisiana while another delivered supplies in Grand Prairie, Texas.
To give to Operation Blessing's Disaster Relief fund, call: 1-800-700-7000 or CLICK HERE.