By The Associated Press

From the air, the destruction of Hurricane Laura is especially stark. Photographs from The Associated Press show entire neighborhoods surrounded by green-brown floodwater. A glassy high-rise stands with most of its windows missing. An airport hangar is shredded into ribbons of metal.

After days of gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico, Laura grew into one of the most powerful storms ever to strike the U.S., a Category 4 monster with 150 mph winds that surpassed even Katrina, which hit Louisiana almost exactly 15 years ago.

Laura pounded the Gulf Coast with wind and rain, unleashed a fearsome wall of seawater and killed at least four people. The system sheared off roofs and left whole neighborhoods in ruins. Most of the homes that remained intact still had missing shingles, shattered windows and yards strewn with debris.

The hurricane maintained strength for hours after making landfall and carved a destructive path hundreds of miles inland.