CNN  — 

Areas along the Louisiana-Texas border were hit hard overnight by Hurricane Laura, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the region.

Laura had weakened to a tropical storm by Thursday afternoon, but daylight brought the first glimpses of the scale of destruction left in its wake, particularly in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which bore the brunt of the storm as it crawled inland.

Here’s what it looks like in parts of Louisiana and Texas after Laura battered the area.


Downed power lines and debris litter a street in Lake Charles on Thursday morning after Hurricane Laura tore through the area.

The hurricane made landfall near Cameron Parish in Louisiana with sustained winds of 150 mph, making it a high-end Category 4 storm.

Laura caused significant damage to buildings in Lake Charles, which sits about 50 miles north of Cameron and has an estimated population of 78,000.

A man surveys what is left of his uncle's barber shop in Lake Charles.
Reginald Duhon prepares to work at his home in Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura tore down trees.
A Lake Charles hotel room sits exposed to the elements on Thursday after its roof was torn off.

Gov. John Bel Edwards told CNN on Thursday morning that “the damage is extensive,” but that its full scale was not yet known.

Officials had not been able to send helicopters to survey the damage because of winds, he said, but more than 1,500 search and rescue personnel were on their way to the worst-hit areas with 400 boats and high-water vehicles.

A person is seen through the blown out windows of the Capitol One Bank Tower in the downtown area of Lake Charles on Thursday.
Debris is strewn down an escalator in Capitol One Bank Tower on Thursday in Lake Charles.
People walk past a destroyed building in Lake Charles.

Though forecasters had previously warned of potentially devastating storm surge, it seemed by Thursday morning that the most devastating damage had been caused by powerful winds.

“It appears now we have more structural damage from the wind” than from storm surge, the governor said.

According to CNN meteorologists, Lake Charles was pounded by wind gusts of more than 120 mph for more than an hour overnight – the equivalent of an EF-2 tornado.

A man walks by debris at a Lake Charles gas station on Thursday.
A man plays his guitar while walking through the downtown area of Lake Charles on Thursday.

The governor urged residents in a tweet to stay home and to not venture out to view the damage. “Now is not the time for sightseeing,” he said, adding that the storm’s threat was “far from over.”

This photo from a reporter at CNN affiliate station WVUE shows how the storm blasted through the wall of the L'Auberge Casino in Lake Charles.
Debris litters the Golden Nugget Hotel in Lake Charles.
This photo from a reporter at CNN affiliate station WSVN shows the wind damage to the front entrance of a La Quinta Inn in Lake Charles.

Resident Paul Heard took shelter in his car as the hurricane tore part of his roof off around 1 a.m., he told CNN.

“There’s a lot of damage,”he said. “People are going to need a lot of help around here.”

A building in Lake Charles was heavily damaged overnight.
The remnants of a flattened building lie near a beach as the eye wall of Laura passes over Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The effects were also felt about 12 miles west of Lake Charles in Sulphur.

“There’s a tree down in every person’s yard,” said John Burch, who shared pictures of his neighborhood with CNN. A number of power lines were also down, he said.

Downed trees litter the yard of a home in Sulphur, Louisiana.


Laura also slammed into Sabine Pass in Port Arthur, Texas, just over the Louisiana border.

An uprooted tree sits in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Sabine Pass in Port Arthur, Texas, on Thursday.
Flooding caused by Hurricane Laura is seen in Sabine Pass, Port Arthur, Texas.

The neighborhood saw flooding and downed power lines.

Gov. Greg Abbott told CNN that emergency crews are making their way throughout the areas closest to the Louisiana border, including Port Arthur, to see if anyone needs help and to assess flood damage. Abbott said that evacuation efforts “no doubt saved lives.”

Flooding caused by Hurricane Laura in Sabine Pass, Texas.

Later, the governor said the storm “could have been far worse” in Texas.

“When you consider the magnitude of the damage that could have occurred here, we did a dodge a bullet,” Abbott said at a news conference.

A power line downed in Hurricane Laurea stretches across a road in Sabine Pass.

Still, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd warned residents that hurricane season wasn’t over.

“This is not the time to high-five and go home,” Kidd said. “This is the time to double down and get ready for the next one.”

CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji, Paul P. Murphy and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.