Hour by hour: Hurricane Laura raged outside my front door. I hunkered down for the night.
LAFAYETTE, La. — It's Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. Central time. Hurricane prep is complete, or at least as much as I am going to get done. I have moved in all of our patio furniture cushions, pulled in anything that can become a projectile. Gassed up the vehicle and closed up the garage and doors, sealed tight.
I feel rather safe, we have a rather new home that is completely up to hurricane code standards, I have two Great Danes, Whiskey and Mojito, (very Louisiana-appropriate names) and they will keep guard for the night. Earlier in the day, Gov. John Edwards closed Interstate Highway 10 for the safety of drivers as it will flood.
The most troubling part is that Hurricane Laura is hitting during the night, so we won't be able to see a thing. You can't see tornadoes coming. You can't see how far the trees bend. You can't sleep because of the sounds of the storm. It’s going to be a long 24 hours, I am guessing.
It's Thursday now. Wow the winds and rain have picked up. The rain is coming down in what sounds like sheets hitting the back of the house and our large window in the bathroom. Still have power, which is amazing but I'm so afraid to jinx it!
This has gotten much worse in the last hour and there is just no relenting. It frequently sounds like a freight train coming through but since it is so dark out its near impossible to see if there are any tornadoes. We have had what feels like 30 tornado alerts go off; the TVs and cell phones are screeching which does nothing for your sanity.
We've experienced the second major power flicker, but power stays on! I'm noticing some pockets of time with semi calm. The streets in our neighborhood are designed to flood in these sorts of events and prevent water from entering our homes. Flooded they certainly are — looking at our outdoor camera it appears to be about 3 feet deep and water is coming up into our driveways.
Hurricane Laura: I've covered Louisiana's storms for years. Hurricane Laura makes 2020 almost seem normal.
Yup, a bit of a slowdown now. Certainly, can tell that things are getting better. And we still have power!
I am pull myself out of bed and check things out. Hot coffee brews while the winds still blow; water has receded down to maybe only 6 inches in our street. Neighbors are out walking around and folks appear rather happy. I turn on the news and the news crews are just beginning to venture out and survey the damage. Watching KATC channel 3 got me through the night and it is shocking now how well it appears Lafayette fared through this storm, which had winds stronger than 2005's Hurricane Rita.
Live shots from Lake Charles, Louisiana, show that a casino boat has broken lose and hit the bridge going over I-10, that bridge is already unstable so this likely is going to close that leg of I-10 for a while.
There is a massive fire over in Lake Charles — from a chemical plant that makes chlorine to be used in pools. A shelter in place order has been issued for the area due to this. As is often the case with hurricanes, the issues arising just after the storm tend to be worse than the actual storm itself; just consider Katrina and the levees breaking. Started hearing from friends in the hardest hit areas — they evacuated, thankfully.
I step out to finally see for myself. The water is nearly gone from our streets but still our storm drains are full, likely due to the rivers being so high and potentially still flowing backwards.
Driving down Johnston Street it is great to see most businesses did really well, though shockingly one of the cement benches at a bus stop was pushed over by the wind.
Power service trucks are being deployed from the nearby mall with its huge parking lot. Crews head out to get to restoring power, clearly these trucks are from all over the nation, and it really makes you feel good seeing all this help and cooperation.
Gov. Edwards gives an update. Certainly, happy that the storm surge was not nearly as bad as we had thought it would be, mostly due to the slight change in the direction of the storm. It is beyond shocking that when Laura arrived in Shreveport, she was still a hurricane.
Still, four people are dead, over 600,000 people are without power and it just hit 90 degrees. This is one for the history books, in an already historic year.
Stephen Handwerk has lived in Lafayette, Louisiana, for more than 20 years, and has gone through several strong hurricanes including Katrina, Rita and Lili.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hurricane Laura: Louisiana dodged the worst of the storm