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Storm Laura has already brought rough seas and high winds in the Caribbean

Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in the coastal US states of Texas and Louisiana as Hurricane Laura barrels towards them.

The storm is expected to move northwest from Cuba through the Gulf of Mexico, hitting both states by Wednesday.

The hurricane lands as another storm, Marco, struck Louisiana on Monday, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

Both have already wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, destroying homes and killing at least 20 people.

US President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for Louisiana, ordering federal assistance to co-ordinate relief efforts.

More than 385,000 residents were ordered to flee the Texas cities of Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur, while an additional 200,000 were told to evacuate Calcasieu Parish in southwestern Louisiana.

Port Arthur, Texas is home to the nation’s largest oil refinery, and workers have been taken off of at least 281 offshore drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, officials said on Monday.

Initially, both storms Marco and Laura were forecast to hit Louisiana as hurricanes within 48 hours of each other – raising concerns, particularly as it would have been the first time in recorded history that the state had been hit by two back-to-back hurricanes.

Now only Laura is expected to make landfall as a hurricane, as Marco has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

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Authorities in Louisiana are bracing for Laura, the second storm expected to hit the state this week

The US National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) changed forecast has bought more time for residents along Louisiana’s coast to prepare.

But Marco could still cause damage and disruption, while Laura is expected to make landfall on Wednesday, forecasters say.

What is the forecast for the US?

America’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced on Tuesday that Tropical Storm Laura has strengthened into a Category One hurricane, bringing sustained winds of 75mph (120km/h).

Laura could bring storm surges of up to 11ft (3.3 metres) in areas of Louisiana and Texas, and additional rainfall of up to 2 inches (50mm), the NHC said.

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Media captionTwo major storms to make landfall in the coming days

“These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” it added.

Laura is expected to be much more powerful than Marco, which is expected to dissipate by early Wednesday, if not sooner.

What happened in the Caribbean?

Marco and Laura brought high winds and rough seas to the Caribbean, leaving at least 20 people dead, including a baby and an eight-year-old child in Haiti.

Heavy rains have also battered parts of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the US territory of Puerto Rico. President Trump declared a state of disaster in the territory on Saturday.

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Flooding has caused extensive damage in countries like the Dominican Republic

In Cuba, authorities have evacuated at least 160,000 people from several coastal regions, while thousands have been evacuated in the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile in Jamaica, there were reports of landslides and flooded roads.

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