Texas Governor Greg Abbott says storm surge not as bad as anticipated but residents still "in danger"

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Hurricane Laura
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Hurricane Laura... 03:24

Texas Governor Greg Abbott had a cautiously optimistic outlook Thursday morning as the sun rose over his state after Hurricane Laura made landfall. Abbott said the massive storm did not bring the "unsurvivable storm surge" that was feared.

"Early on it looked like the Beaumont, Port Arthur area may be taking the brunt of the storm," Abbott told "CBS This Morning." "Over the past six hours, before the storm came across shore, it moved a little bit more on the Louisiana side. So it did not turn out as bad as was earlier anticipated."

But Abbott stressed the state is not done with the storm.

"Even as we're speaking right now, the storm continues to rip through east Texas. And so Texans are in danger," Abbott said. "They need to continue to take cover as tornadoes and heavy storms are ripping through there. East Texas has many tall trees, many of which have been downed already. People need to be very vigilant still as we are speaking."

Wednesday afternoon, Abbott called for mandatory evacuations of thousands of people, telling those in harm's way it would be hard for first responders to reach them after the storm hit. The governor said as many as 10,000 had evacuated and those efforts, at least by early reports, paid off.

"An early report, which may be premature, but as of now, we have no reports of loss of life," Abbott said. "We do have search and rescue teams going throughout the entire area as we speak, looking to see if there's anybody who needs to be rescued. But because so many people did evacuate, especially from the Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange area, it probably means we were able to escape this devastating storm without any loss of life."

With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, helping those who couldn't evacuate and needed shelter might have been difficult. But Abbott said thousands of hotel rooms across the region were made available for people in need, a tactic first used during Hurricane Hannah.

"One thing that we learned from Hurricane Hannah, that came through Texas last month, is the best way for people to shelter in a hurricane during COVID is not in the large shelters but, instead, in hotel rooms where families can isolate together without exposing themselves to others," Abbott said. "I know in the aftermath of Hurricane Hannah there was actually a reduction in the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19. We hope the same occurrence will happen here."