• Nearly 400,000 customers between Texas and Louisiana lost power after Hurricane Laura made landfall
  • Widespread flooding has been reported from the "unsurvivable storm surge" Laura brought with it
  • Laura has weakened rapidly since making landfall, dropping to a category 2 storm in a few hours

Hurricane Laura made landfall on Thursday along southwestern Louisiana, bringing with it heavy rain and dangerous winds already causing heavy damage to the region. However, Laura is beginning to weaken at a rapid pace, dropping from a category 4 storm to a category 1 storm in a matter of hours.

As of 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Laura was moving north at 16 mph with sustained winds averaging 75 mph.

“Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes,” the National Hurricane Center warned. “This surge could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the immediate coastline, and flood waters will not fully recede for several days after the storm.”

This “unsurvivable storm surge” as high as 20 feet had already resulted in dangerous flooding along the Louisiana coast.

“The surge is going to inland, they predict, there will be parts of Lake Charles underwater that that no living human being has ever seen before,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told WWL Radio.

“We are marshalling all of our people and assets to go in tomorrow and start a very robust search and rescue effort. We’ve brought in search and rescue teams from other states such as Tennessee for example.”

Edwards subsequently appeared on MSNBC later Thursday morning to confirm one person had been killed thus far by the storm. He said a 14-year-old girl, whose name was not released, was killed in Leesville after winds caused a tree to fall on her family's home.

"I suspect that won’t be the last, although I pray we don’t have any more, but we know we have at least one fatality now in Louisiana," Edwards said.

Nearly 300,000 customers across the state have also lost power and the number was climbing steadily as Laura moves inland.

The situation in eastern Texas could be described as “rinse-and-repeat” as the storm surge caused flooding along the coast and power outages were growing. One of the areas hit hardest was Port Arthur, Texas, which has reported flooding from the surge. Most of the town is also in the dark thanks to the power outages and widespread damage from winds exceeding 100 mph.

The silver lining is Laura is forecast to continue weakening at a rapid pace for most of Thursday. It is expected to drop to a tropical storm sometime in the afternoon as it continues moving north-northeast inland. Laura's projected path has it turning further eastward, hitting the Mid-Atlantic region before moving back out into the Atlantic Ocean by the weekend.

Hurricane Laura has closed down three million barrels of oil capacity as it churns towards the Texas and Louisiana coasts
Hurricane Laura has closed down three million barrels of oil capacity as it churns towards the Texas and Louisiana coasts GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Thomas B. Shea