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Buildings and homes are flooded in Cameron, Louisiana, in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. Photo: David J. Phillip via AP

A rare relief in the 2020 grind: The worst-case scenario hasn't yet come to pass with Hurricane Laura.

The state of play: The storm surge in Louisiana was 9 to 10 feet vs. the possibility of 20, and wind damage is easier to repair than massive flooding.

  • The death toll currently stands at four, and Interstate 10 is closed because a casino riverboat is jammed under one of its bridges.

The big picture: This was still a monster Category 4 hurricane at landfall.

  • “It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” Brett Geymann told the AP.
  • 600,000 people are without power, and 100,000 are potentially without access to clean water.

There's a “chlorine gas chemical fire” near Lake Charles, Louisiana, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a shelter in place order as a result of the fire, telling residents to close windows and doors and turn off their A/C units.

What they're saying: "Just about the entire state saw Tropical Storm-force winds," Edwards said Thursday. "That's how big and powerful this storm was."

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters on that his state saw the most significant damage in Orange County.
  • "You saw more rooftops ripped off, you saw more shingles missing, you saw more trees down, you saw big pieces of steel framing wrapped around some trees. You saw some roads that were still inundated with water, impassable at this particular time," Abbott said.

What's next: FEMA said on Wednesday that it planned to move 500,000 meals and 800,000 liters of water into Louisiana, and would keep 250,000 meals and 400,000 liters of water at its Fort Worth distribution center for either state.

  • Flood-level rainfall and tropical-storm force winds are expected for Arkansas, after Laura passed near the Louisiana-Arkansas border around 1 p.m. on Thursday.

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.

14 mins ago - Podcasts

How hospitals are prepping for the new COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, particularly in areas that had been largely spared this spring. One big question now is whether hospitals are better prepared for this new wave, including if they'll be able to continue providing elective services.

Axios Re:Cap digs into what hospitals have, and what they still need, with Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, one of America's largest operators of hospitals and health clinics.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
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  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.