VERMILION PARISH, La. – A Louisiana sheriff’s office asked anyone who didn’t evacuate for Hurricane Laura to write their identity down, put it in a plastic bag and place it in their pocket.
The Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office made the request in a Facebook post on Wednesday, before the hurricane pummeled the state as a Category 4 storm.
“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,” wrote officials. “Praying that it does not come to this!”
The office said those who chose to stay and face the dangerous storm should understand that rescue efforts won’t begin until after the hurricane and storm surge has passed and it is safe.
“Expecting the worse but praying for the best,” wrote the office.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered for the parish, which is located along the Gulf Coast, south of Lafayette. A curfew has also been put in place for the community until further notice.
The hurricane made landfall along the border of Louisiana and Texas at about 1 a.m. CDT on Thursday. It had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. That makes it the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.
As of Thursday morning, at least one person has died as a result of the storm. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said a 14-year-old girl died when a tree fell on her home.
The storm is continuing to make its way through Louisiana and into Arkansas, weakening as it goes, but strong winds and flooding still pose a threat. High water levels persist along portions of the Gulf Coast, according to the NHC.