Hurricane slams into Louisiana with 'unsurvivable' storm surge
Hurricane Laura has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, but is still life threatening to people in its path.
Hurricane Laura is now a Category 2 storm on Thursday as it moves deeper into the US state of Louisiana after making landfall the previous day as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4.
The hurricane was predicted to cause catastrophic damage with an "unsurvivable storm surge" to the Gulf Coast near the Texas-Louisiana border.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana. It had maximum sustained winds of 240 kilometres per hour (150 miles per hour), making it the most powerful hurricane to strike the United States so far this year.
The storm's power raised fears of a six-metre (20-foot) storm surge capable of sinking entire communities on the coast. A few hours after landfall, it was downgraded to Category 3.
It rapidly weakened to a Category 2 storm Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 168 kilometres per hour (105 miles per hour) as it moved north and battered southwest Louisiana, a marshy region particularly prone to storm surge and flooding.
Laura's howling winds battered a tall building in Lake Charles, blowing out windows as glass and debris flew to the ground. Police spotted a floating casino that got loose and crunched against a bridge. Video footage and photos on social media showed torrents of rain flying sideways past street and streets covered with water closer to the coast.