Hundreds of thousands flee US coast ahead of Hurricane Laura

Louisiana
This satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Tropical Storm Laura in the North Atlantic Ocean, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. Laura formed Friday in the eastern Caribbean and forecasters said it poses a potential hurricane threat to Florida and the U.S. Gulf Coast. A second storm also may hit the U.S. after running into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. (NOAA via AP)

By JOHN MONE and STACEY PLAISANCE

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — More than half a million people have been ordered to evacuate the Texas and Louisiana coasts ahead of Hurricane Laura. It is the largest U.S. evacuation of the pandemic. Forecasters expect Laura to grow to a major Category 3 hurricane over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before hitting the U.S. coastline late Wednesday or early Thursday. The National Hurricane Center warns  of potentially devastating damage. Scientists predict up to 13 feet of storm surge, which could inundate the coastline. Laura already killed two dozen people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.