Updated, 4 p.m. Aug.27: Hurricane Laura was officially downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday afternoon, but state officials in Louisiana are warning residents to remain cautious.
In a news conference, Gov. John Bel Edwards said remaining storm bands still are causing floods in the state. A storm surge near Cameron, La., where Laura made landfall early on Thursday, topped at least 12 feet and may have reached 15 feet.
"Its a lot of storm surge but not the 20 feet we were told," he said.
Damage was still being assessed in a region that is home to a range of petrochemical and plastics plants. One fire reported in the area was caused by a chlorine leak at BioLab, a maker of pool chemicals.
Consulting firm ICIS noted that the hurricane prompted more shutdowns at refineries than anticipated.
Paul Bjacek, a consultant with Accenture based in Houston, said on Linkedin that about 75 percent of U.S. petrochemical and polymer manufacturing capacity is in the pre-declared disaster areas of Texas and Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center said damaging winds will continue through northern Louisiana and Arkansas through today, while high storm surge waters continue to be an issue along the Gulf Coast.
The region is an area heavily populated by plastics and petrochemical plants. A lot of this same region previously went through the floods that followed Hurricane Harvey.
Materials plants started preparing for Laura earlier this week, preemptively shutting down and sending most workers home.
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