Tropical Storm Laura batters Louisiana

By Meg Wagner, Amy Woodyatt and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 9:11 PM ET, Thu August 27, 2020
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12:34 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

A chemical fire is burning at a plant near Lake Charles, Louisiana, governor says

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers, Gary Tuchman, Anne Clifford  

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed that a chemical fire is burning at a plant in southeast Louisiana. He urged all residents to shelter in place, turn off air conditioning units and to wait further directions from local officials. 

Emergency alerts pinged cellphones in the Lake Charles area with the following message:

“Plant fire: Westlake residents shelter in place, close doors, windows, turn off a/c follow media.”

The Parish office of Emergency management was unable to provide details at this point regarding the incident.  

CNN crews in the area saw a large plume of smoke coming from a facility near I-10 in Lake Charles.  

12:24 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

More than 10,000 residents in Texas and Louisiana went to shelters last night

From CNN's Amanda Watts

According to a statement from Greta Gustafson with the American Red Cross, “last night, more than 10,000 people across Texas and Louisiana were provided a safe place to stay by local officials in emergency lodgings, including shelters and, in some circumstances, hotels.”

“With the light of day bringing the full scope of Hurricane Laura into view, it’s clear the storm produced devastating results. Overnight I witnessed extreme winds, heavy rains, street flooding, property damage and loss of power,” Stephanie Wagner, also with the Red Cross, said from Louisiana.  

The Red Cross is providing blankets, cots and personal protective equipment for those in need. They are also on stand-by in Arkansas as the catastrophic storm continues to move north.  

More than 400 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground, with another 400 mobilized virtually, Gustafson said.  

12:13 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Three deaths reported in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura 

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers

Three deaths have been reported in Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Laura, a spokesperson for the state tells CNN 

“The Acadia parish coroner has confirmed the death of a 60 year old male that died after a tree fell onto the house he was in. The coroner has confirmed death is considered a storm-related death,” Mike Steele, spokesperson for the State Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, told CNN 

Another man died in Jackson Parish, when a tree fell on a home he was in, Steel said.

The governor’s office had previously confirmed the death of a 14-year-old girl in Vernon Perish when a tree hit fell on her home.  

12:33 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Plant fire reported in Lake Charles, Louisiana, following Hurricane Laura

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers, Gary Tuchman, Anne Clifford 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

An “incident” is being investigated in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Mike Steele, spokesperson for the state office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, told CNN. Steele said that State Police and the State Fire Marshall are the lead agencies for hazmat incidents. 

Emergency alerts pinged cellphones in the Lake Charles area with the following message:

“Plant fire: Westlake residents shelter in place, close doors, windows, turn off a/c follow media.”

The parish's office of emergency management was unable to provide details at this point regarding the incident. A spokesperson for the governor's office said, "We are looking into it and will release details when they are available." 

CNN crews in the area saw a large plume of smoke coming from a facility near I-10 in Lake Charles. 

12:02 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Laura is still a Category 1 hurricane

Hurricane Laura remains a Category 1 storms as it travels northward through Louisiana, according to a noon ET update from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm current has winds of 75 mph.

"Damaging winds and flooding rainfall spreading inland over central and northern portions of Louisiana," the center said in the update. "High water levels persist along portions of the Gulf Coast."

2:21 p.m. ET, August 27, 2020

More than 700,000 customers are without power because of Hurricane Laura

Power lines and damaged homes sit among flood water after Hurricane Laura passed through the area August 27 in Holly Beach, Louisiana.
Power lines and damaged homes sit among flood water after Hurricane Laura passed through the area August 27 in Holly Beach, Louisiana. Eric Thayer/Getty Images

There are at least 709,465 customers without power in Louisiana and Texas as of 11:45 a.m. ET, according to PowerOutage.US.

Louisiana is experiencing the most significant outages from Hurricane Laura, with at least 570,706 current outages. Texas, meanwhile, is reporting at least 138,759 outages.

11:49 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Catch up: Here's the latest updates on Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura slammed into the Louisiana coast overnight as a dangerous Category 4 storm. It's since weakened, but it continues to travel northward through the state.

If you're just reading in now, here's what you need to know:

  • Downgraded — but still a threat: Hurricane Laura is now a Category 1 storm, but Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to continue following local storm guidance, saying the hurricane is still a threat.
  • Heavy rain expected: From late Thursday morning onward, Laura was expected to drop another 4 to 8 inches of rain across parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. Isolated amounts of 18 inches are possible in Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.
  • Power outages in Texas and Louisiana: More than 700,000 customers in Texas and Louisiana were without power Thursday morning, according to PowerOutages.us.
  • Where it goes next: Laura is expected stay a hurricane until it reaches the Arkansas border, the director of the National Hurricane Center says.
11:44 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Laura will move into Arkansas this evening. Here is what to expect.

From CNN's Judson Jones

CNN/MapBox
CNN/MapBox

Laura will continue to weaken as it crosses into Arkansas later today and overnight. However, this does not diminish the effects it could have on the state. 

Tropical Storm-force winds will sweep across the region. With at times, gusts over 60mph. "Winds this strong could down trees and power lines, with power outages possible," says the National Weather Service in Little Rock. 

There is also a slight risk for tornadoes across most of the state. Tornadoes associated with hurricanes and tropical storms are often isolated and tend to be brief and weak. 

"Even so, they can still cause damage," the National Weather Service warns.

In addition, 4 to 6 inches of rainfall is forecast from Texarkana to just northeast of Little Rock. 

With this rain coming down in just a short amount of time, flash flooding is likely. 

"Flash flooding could be serious in places," the Little Rock weather office said.

11:22 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

White House urges those affected by Laura to heed officials' warnings

From CNN's Sam Fossum

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued a statement on Hurricane Laura, encouraging those affected to heed warnings from state and local authorities.

She reiterated that Trump was briefed earlier this week by acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor and said he continues to “receive regular updates about the conditions on the ground.”

“President Trump is committed to deploying the full resources of the Federal Government to rescue those in distress, support those in the region affected, and restore disruptions to our communities and infrastructure,” McEnany said.