▶ Watch Video: Hurricane Laura leaves dramatic destruction in its wake

The morning after Hurricane Laura devastated the Louisiana coast, residents returned to a 40-mile wide swath of destruction that CBS News’ Tony Dokoupil likened to the destructive effects of a tornado. The storm touched down as the strongest to make landfall in Louisiana, and brought floods along with winds of up to 150 miles per hour. 

“This is probably not going to be home anymore,” Lake Charles resident Craig Barker said. “I don’t know whether we’ll be able to rebuild it.”

Standing near what was left of his childhood home, Barker said it was “devastating” to return and see that the storm’s fierce winds peeled off the roof and blew out the windows. 

He stood near the wooden wreckage of what appeared to have been a shed lying in front of the house.

“This used to be in the back of the house,” he said.

Tony Dokoupil examines the wreckage of Craig Barker’s trailer.

CBS News

Barker’s trailer was also ripped to shreds by the hurricane. But despite reeling from his own losses, he acknowledged the damage was widespread.

“I’m just one of thousands of people. I’m nobody special. I’m nobody different,” he said. 

After slamming ashore Thursday, Laura sent storm surge 10 feet high over homes and businesses in Cameron, Louisiana. As it moved inland, the wind toppled mobile homes, rail cars and punctured holes in a skyscraper. 

A few miles from Lake Charles, a chemical plant caught fire and sent thick, black smoke and dangerous fumes into the air. Families living nearby who had survived the hurricane were told to shelter in place.

Amid the destruction, however, some were spared.

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Jardneaux and his wife were inside the house as the top of this tree hit a gutter on his home, sparing his house by inches.

CBS News

“Somebody was watching over us, that’s all I can say,” said Brandon Jardneaux, who rode out the storm in his home. Jardneaux and his wife were inside the house as the top of a tree hit a gutter on his home, sparing his house by inches. 

“I heard noises in that house that wasn’t supposed to happen. I was pretty nervous,” he said.

Thursday morning, Jardneaux was lucky enough to be in his yard cleaning up. 

“The good Lord was watching over us,” he said. “It wasn’t our time.”

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