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Hurricane Laura downgraded to category one

Storm weakening after causing widespread damage - NBC's Chris Pollone reports

LAFAYETTE, La. (KYMA, KECY/NBC News) - Hurricane Laura is now losing strength, but Wednesday night the story slammed into the Gulf Coast with winds that topped 150 miles an hour.

Southern Texas and Louisiana got hit hardest. In the light of day, people began assessing damage after suffering through a terrifying night.

Laura hit the Gulf Coast with 150+ mile an hour winds

Laura roared ashore in Thursday's early hours. It lashed the Louisiana and Texas coasts with torrential rain, 150 mile an hour winds, and a storm surge the National Hurricane Center called "unsurvivable."

The powerful category four, major hurricane killed at least one person.

Wind rips off the roof of a gas station

"The whole Valero gas station roof, the top of it ripped off." said one reporter covering the storm.

"The good news is, the storm surge appears to be half of what was forecast and it still very significant." said Gov. John Bel Edwards, (D-La.).

Daylight gave officials a chance to get out and get a true sense of the damage. Some were afraid of what they might find.

"Few houses might make it, most will probably be gone." said Scott Trahan, the Vice President of Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

The Texas governor was cautiously optimistic.

Gov. Greg Abbott, (R-Tex.)

"The reports right now are fairly good because the main thing is we have no reports of loss of life right now. " said Gov Greg Abbott, (R-Tex.)

Early, it became clear, many things wouldn't be the same after Laura.

"There was an unofficial gust here in Lake Charles at 137 miles." said The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore.

More than a half-million people were under mandatory evacuation orders in Texas and Louisiana. Most paid attention.

Storm aftermath in one Louisiana neighborhood

"We was gonna stay, but when they said category 4, that was it." Gloria Bernard said as she prepared to evacuate.

Others decided to ride it out.

"Why would you stay in harm's way?" said Mayor Thurman Bartie, of Port Arthur, Texas.

"This storm is going across the state…through the poorest part of the state and houses weren't built for this kind of high wind." said Lt. General Russel Honoré, who lead the Joint Task Force during Hurricane Katrina.

More storm damage in Louisiana

In Louisiana, the National Guard is out assessing damage and checking for people who may need rescue.

About a half-million people in the region have no power, most of them in Louisiana. Power companies say crews from 20 states are in the area to get the electricity back up and running.

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Lisa Sturgis

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


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