In a briefing held on Thursday, which was the first time the governor spoke publicly since the hurricane made landfall, Abbott said he flew above the region alongside the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct a full survey of the damage.
He explained how the storm hit various areas in different ways. The city of Orange, however, he says, got the brunt of the damage.
WATCH: Downed trees, branches around Orange after Hurricane Laura
"You saw more rooftops ripped off," explained the governor. "You saw more shingles missing. You saw more trees down. You saw big pieces of steel framing wrapped around some trees. You saw some roads that were still inundated under water."
Though not as hard hit as neighboring cities across the Sabine River in Louisiana, the town of nearly 20,000 was still left littered with debris and downed utility lines.
WATCH: Sen. Ted Cruz on Hurricane Laura: 'This was not our first rodeo'
Orange mayor Larry Spears told ABC13 the damage could have been a lot worse, and Abbott agreed.
"I asked everybody how they feel about working their way through this hurricane, [and] everybody pretty much had the same phrase. That is, 'We dodged a bullet. It could've been far worse.'"
Virtually all of Orange County was without power as people began to survey what was left behind by the storm.
Abbott said more than 160,000 power outages have been reported as of 12 p.m. on Thursday, and more than 8,500 people were provided shelter throughout the state.
The National Hurricane Center said Laura slammed the coast with winds of 150 mph at 1 a.m. as a Category 4 hurricane near Cameron, Louisiana, a 400-person community about 30 miles southeast of Orange.
Forecasters expected a weakened Laura to cause widespread flash flooding in states far from the coast. An unusual tropical storm warning was issued as far north as Little Rock, where forecasters expected gusts of 50 mph and a deluge of rain through Friday. After turning eastward and reaching the Atlantic Ocean, it could again become a tropical storm and threaten the Northeast.
Laura was the seventh named storm to strike the U.S. this year, setting a new record for U.S. landfalls by the end of August. The old record was six in 1886 and 1916, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.