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Photo: NOAA

Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, southwestern Louisiana, early Thursday as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm. The National Hurricane Center warned to expect "catastrophic" extreme winds, flash-flooding and "unsurvivable" storm surges.

What's happening: The storm was packing winds of 150 mph — 7 mph short of a Category 5 hurricane — when it began pummeling the region near the Texas border — knocking out power to almost 160,000 customers in Louisiana and almost 32,000 others in Texas, per PowerOutage.US

The big picture: Laura is the one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the U.S. and the first to make landfall as a Category 4 since Hurricane Harvey devastated the Gulf Coast in 2017.

  • Hundreds of thousands of people in Texas and Louisiana were ordered to evacuate ahead of the arrival of Laura, which killed at least 23 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic when it swept over the Caribbean as a tropical storm earlier this week.

What they're saying: Panews.com reports Thurman Bartie, mayor of Port Arthur, Texas, warned residents considering staying behind after he issued a mandatory evacuation order, "Know that it's just you and God."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. It's the third hurricane to hit Louisiana in about two months, after Laura and Delta. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of COVID-19 cases

Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Photo: THIERRY ROGE/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Belgium is enforcing a strict lockdown starting Sunday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.

Why it matters: De Croo said the government saw no choice but to lock down "to ensure that our health care system does not collapse." Scientists and health officials said deaths have doubled every six days, per the Guardian.

27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Reid Hoffman launches $1M ad urging election patience

Screengrab of ad

Billionaire and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, one of Democrats' biggest donors, tells Axios he's launching a $1 million digital ad campaign in battleground states urging voters to be patient with election results and prepare for no winner to be known on Nov. 3, no matter what "some people" may prematurely declare via Twitter.

Driving the news: The three-minute ad, titled "We Count! A Patriotic Musical Extravaganza," features the voice of "The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons and Broadway star Barrett Doss. The spot will appear on Facebook targeting voters in the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.