Residents of many parts of Louisiana's Vermilion Parish were under a mandatory evacuation order triggered by the worst storm to hit the region in more than a century, and those who stuck around better hold on tight. "Those choosing to stay and face this very dangerous storm must understand that rescue efforts cannot and will not begin until after storm and surge has passed and it is safe to do so," the Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office said Wednesday. "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," the office adds. "Praying that it does not come to this!" It's unclear how many people chose to stick around in Vermilion.
In nearby Cameron Parish, where Hurricane Laura made landfall early Thursday as a category 4 storm—it has since been downgraded to a category 1, per WAFB—some 150 people were staying put in homes or recreational vehicles, per WDSU. "It's a very sad situation," Ashley Buller of Cameron's Office of Emergency Preparedness, told the outlet on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, the National Hurricane Center had predicted the storm surge would be "unsurvivable," reaching up to 20 feet high and up to 40 miles inland. Buller said officials "did everything we could to encourage [residents] to leave." Help might not arrive until Friday or Saturday, per CNN. (The first reported death is that of a 14-year-old girl.)