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Donald Trump met with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, US lawmakers and federal agency officials following Hurricane Laura which left 15 dead. The massive storm hit Louisiana early on Thursday with 150mph winds, damaging buildings, knocking down trees and cutting power to more than 650,000 people in Louisiana and Texas. However, Laura’s storm surge was much less than predicted.
The Category 4 hurricane killed at least 15 people, including some killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from the unsafe operation of generators.
Governor Edwards called Laura the most powerful hurricane to strike Louisiana, surpassing even Katrina, which was a Category 3 storm when it hit in 2005.
Mr Trump, told officials, referring to those who were lost: “It’s a tremendous number, but you were thinking it could be, could have been, a lot worse.”
The President signed a disaster declaration for Louisiana on Friday.
Mr Trump also met with National Guard personnel in Louisiana helping with relief efforts and later flew to Orange, Texas, to meet with officials.
He sat down and called to a group of people, saying: “Come here fellas, get over here. I want a little power.”
Handing over his autograph to an official, he said: “Sell this on eBay tonight, you’ll get $10,000”.
He then told another recipient that he is deliberately not putting his name on as it would be worth more without it.
The President’s autographed memorabilia on eBay has bids topping thousands of dollars.
Residents of Lake Charles heard Laura’s winds howling and the sound of breaking glass as the storm passed through the city of 78,000 with winds of 85mphand gusts up to 128mph in the hour after landfall.
National Guard troops cleared debris from roads in Lake Charles on Thursday afternoon.
There were downed powerlines in streets around the city, and the winds tipped a few semi-trucks onto their sides.
The windows of the city’s 22-floor Capital One Tower were blown out, street signs were toppled and pieces of wooden fence and debris from collapsed buildings lay scattered in the flooded streets, video footage on Twitter and Snapchat showed.
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Lake Charles resident Borden Wilson, a 33-year-old pediatrician, was anxiously anticipating his return home after evacuating to Minden, Louisiana.
He said: “I never even boarded up my windows. I didn’t think to do that. This is the first hurricane I’ve experienced. I just hope my house is fine.”
In the small town of Starks, about 25 miles northwest of Lake Charles, pine trees strewn across roads and homes were the biggest challenge in cleaning up.
Reverend Karl Smith carefully inspected the damage done to buildings around his First Pentecostal Church. He rode out the storm in the cellar of his house – and had to cut through trees so that he and his wife could get out.
“We just had trees thrown everywhere,” Smith said. “It’s a big mess.”
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