Emergency crews, utility workers and residents are mourning over the damage and cleaning up the mess Hurricane Laura made in southwest Louisiana. The storm — whose 150-mph winds tie for the strongest to ever hit the state — wrought destruction on a broad scale, leveling warehouses and crashing trees through roofs.
Residents are finding telephone poles and large trees strewn across streets. In Iowa, a small town a few miles east of Lake Charles on Interstate 10, the hurricane smashed Fire Station No. 1.
"It tore the brick off, it tore the roof off, it lifted the truck by its roof. I mean, it tore everything. I have a skylight in my truck right now," said Scooter Lewis, chief of the volunteer fire department, in an interview with NPR's Wade Goodwyn.
At a nearby mobile home park, Greg Lewis rode out the storm in his double-wide, staying behind after his wife went to a motel — a mistake, he now says.
As the Category 4 hurricane brought its furious winds ashore at about 1 a.m., Lewis crouched down behind his brick steps.
"It was the noisiest I have ever heard in my life, and it never quit," Lewis tells Goodwyn, adding that he could hear tornadoes in the midst of the storm's howling winds. He regretted staying behind, Lewis said.
"Every minute. Every minute. I won't do it again."
Another resident says her mobile home moved like a roller coaster in the intense winds.
South of Lake Charles, Patrick Bright spent the night at his father's house, and he says the structure started shaking as the storm hit. Then, they felt the roof get pulled off — and water started coming into the house.
It was very different, he said, from previous strong hurricanes that hit the area.
"I was here for a little bit of Rita" and its massive floodwaters in 2005, Bright said. He added: "This time it's more, as you can see, the wind just tore everything up."
Laura's remnants are now moving across the mid-Mississippi Valley, bringing rain and the chance of tornadoes. As Lake Charles and surrounding areas take stock and clear out the damage, forecasters say strong thunderstorms will hit the region Friday, bringing more heavy rain, pea-sized hail and winds up to 30 mph.