With reported winds of 150 mph, higher than that of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, Laura was expected to wreak havoc on southeast Texas.
But on Thursday morning, it was clear that Texas had been largely spared from the path of destruction.
At 1:00 a.m., the National Hurricane Center published an advisory report stating that the eye of the hurricane had made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana — about an hour’s drive east of Port Arthur in the corner of Texas.
In the early hours of the day, the storm moved northward in Louisiana.
Gov. Greg Abbott surveyed the damage from a helicopter on Thursday morning and then held a press conference with other elected officials in Orange.
Abbott said that he saw some damage to rooftops, trees, and roads still covered with water.
“As I ask everybody how they feel about working their way through this hurricane, everyone pretty much had the same phrase, and that is, ‘We dodged a bullet,’” said Abbott.
“It could have been far worse. We were anticipating and it was prognosticated that there would be a storm surge that could very easily exceed 10 feet. I was told earlier that the storm surge was three feet, and that seven-foot differential means all the difference.”
The storm caused plenty of power outages, though — with reportedly 160,000 power outages remaining in the areas of Texas affected by the storm as of Abbott’s press conference earlier today.
The governor said that almost 8,500 individuals were provided with shelter throughout the state, including the use of 3,000 hotel rooms.
Only one unconfirmed report of a death in Sabine County had been provided to the governor at the time of the press conference.
“If we make it through a Category 4 hurricane that ripped through the coastline all the way up to the Texarkana area, and we have been able to have minimal or perhaps no loss of life, that is a miracle. It shows that prayers were answered, that so many people cared so much about their neighbor, and that preparation paid off,” said Abbott.
Orange County Judge John Gothia echoed that the phrase “we dodged a bullet” was an apt sentiment.
“Probably about at 2:30-3:00 o’clock this morning, there was probably felt across Texas a huge sigh of relief as [Laura] started going east,” said Gothia.
“Now with that sigh of relief was also some sadness that it was going to our neighbors. We hate to see it go there, and we’re going to do all we can to help those folks just as they came over and helped us during Harvey and Imelda.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.