Residents of a Louisiana parish have been ordered to evacuate or place their details "in a ziploc bag in [their] pocket", as Hurricane Laura sweeps through the US state.
On Wednesday, the Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation and curfew amid warnings that the hurricane would be "unsurvivable".
As Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana, it gained the strength to become a menacing Category 4 hurricane with the potential for a 20ft storm surge. It has since weakened to a Category 2.
The full Facebook post from Vermillion Parish Sheriff's Office read: “If the storm maintains its current track and projected strength as a CAT 3 or 4, it will cause massive tidal flooding with a possible 12 to 18 foot surge and catastrophic wind damage to structures in Vermilion Parish creating a very dangerous situation to include loss of life.
"A curfew is in place beginning Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 9.00 p.m. until 5.00 a.m. until further notice.
“Please evacuate and if you choose to stay and we can’t get to you, write your name, address, social security number and next of kin and put it a ziplock bag in your pocket.
"Praying that it does not come to this. Expecting the worse buy praying for the best.”
Video and photos on social media showed torrents of rain flying sideways past street lights in Lake Charles, and streets covered with water closer to the coast.
A sudden storm surge knocked over cameras meant to capture the hurricane’s effects.
Forecasters have warned the weather will be capable of sinking entire communities.
Across Louisiana and Texas, authorities have implored coastal residents to flee, with the force already being felt hours before the full scale of the storm was due to hit.