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Hurricane Laura expected to make landfall Wednesday night

Time running out for residents along the Gulf Coast - NBC's Chris Pollone reports

LAFAYETTE, La. (KYMA, KECY/NBC News) - For people living along the Gulf Coast, time is running out.

Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall as a category three or four storm late Wednesday near the Louisiana-Texas border. Hundreds of thousands of people are under mandatory evacuation orders.

Laura strengthened to a category three hurricane overnight with winds exceeding 111-miles per hour. And the National Hurricane Center (NHC) says it could strengthen even more before making landfall late tonight.

The NHC warns, when it strikes, the storm will bring extreme winds, flash flooding, and storm surge up to 30-miles inland.

"There will be a lot of devastation wrecked upon Texas as the storm sweeps through." said Gov. Greg Abbott, (R-Tex.)

Forecasters predict Laura will hit near the Louisiana-Texas border, but its effects will be felt for hundreds of miles. People throughout the region are spending their final moments getting ready.

"My yard usually gets pretty flooded - in a couple of days it'll rain out and dry out -- say my biggest fear is the trees right now and what's in my garage - I have a lot of electrical stuff." said Tyrone from Port Arthur, Texas.

Many heeding calls to get out, they're boarding busses and heading to shelters. Those shelters will be socially distanced because of coronavirus.

Others say, they'll take their chances and ride it out at home.

"It's like ok we've done this before so its everything that we need to do before it gets here." said Brittny Thomas from Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Officials warn those who ignore evacuation orders - at a certain point, first responders won't be there if you call.

"Don't dial 911, nobody's gonna answer. you are on your own." said Mayor Thurman Bartie of Port Arthur, Texas.

The mayor's stern warning emphasizes the seriousness of the situation.

Officials warn some places could be without power for days. The electric companies in the strike zone have assembled thousands of workers. All are ready to go out when it's over to start getting the power back up and running.

The American Red Cross says it has 700 workers pre-positioned to provide disaster relief.

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Lisa Sturgis

Lisa Sturgis Lisa got her first job in TV news at KYMA in 1987.


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