Hurricane Delta inflicts new round of destruction in Louisiana

Hurricane Delta inflicts new round of destruction in Louisiana
The day after Hurricane Delta blew through the besieged Louisiana bayou, residents started the routine again: dodging overturned cars on the roads, trudging through knee-deep water to flooded homes with ruined floors and no power, and pledging to rebuild after the storm.

Delta made landfall Friday evening near the coastal Louisiana town of Creole with top winds of 100mph (155km/h). It then moved over Lake Charles, a city where Hurricane Laura damaged nearly every home and building in late August. No deaths had been reported as of Saturday afternoon, but officials said people were not out of danger.

While Delta was a weaker storm than the category 4 Laura, it brought significantly more flooding, Lake Charles’ mayor, Nic Hunter, said. He estimated that hundreds of already battered homes across the city took on water. The recovery from the double impact will be long, the mayor said.

“Add Laura and Delta together and it’s just absolutely unprecedented and catastrophic,” Hunter said. “We are very concerned that with everything going in the country right now that this incident may not be on the radar nationally like it should be.”

The Louisiana governor’s office said it had no reports of deaths early Saturday, but a hurricane’s wake can be treacherous. Only seven of the 32 deaths in Louisiana and Texas attributed to Laura came the day that hurricane struck. A leading cause of the others was carbon monoxide poisoning from generators used in places without electricity. Others died in accidents while cleaning up.

Delta rapidly weakened once it moved onto land, and had slowed into a tropical depression Saturday morning. Forecasters warned that heavy rain, ocean water from the storm surge and flash floods continued to pose dangers from parts of Texas to Mississippi.

Delta hit as a category 2 hurricane, with top winds of 100mph (155km/h) before rapidly weakening over land. By Saturday morning, it dwindled to a tropical storm with 45mph (75km/h) winds, but storm surge and flash floods continued to pose dangers across much of south-western Louisiana and parts of neighboring Texas. Mississippi also got its fair share of rain overnight.

With the water knee-deep along Legion Street in Lake Charles, resident Patrick King had to wade through the water to get to his home after he returned Saturday from spending the night in Beaumont, Texas.

“I was hoping and praying that it didn’t get into the house, but it did. It rose up close to the furniture,” King said.

Looking around the neighborhood, he ticked off the damage that Laura had done. One house demolished. One neighbor who lost a carport. Another with a gutted house who had already replaced the roof.

The wind wasn’t the source of King’s distress following Delta. It was the rain and flooding. Before evacuating, he had put sandbags and plastic in the doorway to keep water out of his one-story brick house. Pulling them back upon his return, he saw worms and spiders scurrying about inside.

“Look at that, look at that,” he said. “Worms! My wife sees that she’s going to cry.”

Water leaked through the ceiling of Ernest Jack’s bedroom in Lake Charles as he tried to sleep through the storm. Jack said a tarp covering roof damage caused by Laura hadn’t blown off. His windows were covered to protect against flying debris.
“It’s raining real hard; it’s flooding; the wind is strong,” Jack said Friday night. “I’m OK. I’m not worried about nothing, just praying that everything goes well.”

In Lake Arthur, Delta’s winds peeled shingles off the roof of L’Banca Albergo, an eight-room boutique hotel in what used to be a bank.

“I probably don’t have a shingle left on the top of this hotel,” owner Roberta Palermo said as the winds gusted outside.

The electricity was out and Palermo said she could see pieces of metal coming off the roof of a 100-year-old building across the street. Unsecured trash cans were flying around the streets.

“There is a lot of power lines down all over the place, there’s … really deep water in certain spots,” said hotel guest Johnny Weaver. He had been out in the weather with his friends earlier and one friend’s car was stranded in the water.

Tropical storm force winds reached 160 miles (260km) outward from the storm’s center early Saturday. A 68mph (110km/h) gust was reported at LSU’s Tiger Stadium overnight, and a 55mph (68km/h) gust was reported at Adams county airport in Natchez, Mississippi.

In Galveston, Texas, about 100 miles (160km) from where the center made landfall, winds toppled trees, street signs and two homes under construction, and with dunes flattened by earlier storms, the surge reached beneath raised houses.

Large swells and rip currents prompted beach closures as far west as the mouth of the Rio Grande.

Delta also downed trees across Mississippi, including one that landed on a Jackson-based WLBT-TV vehicle with a news crew inside. No one was injured.

Forecasters said the storm would move into the Tennessee Valley Saturday and into Sunday as a tropical depression.

In Delta’s wake, about 740,000 homes and businesses were without power in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi early Saturday, according to the tracking website PowerOutage.us.

Delta, the 25th named storm of an unprecedented Atlantic hurricane season, made the record books when it struck the Gulf coast. It was the first Greek-alphabet-named hurricane to hit the continental US. And it became the 10th named storm to hit the mainland US this year, breaking a century-old record set in 1916, according to Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach.

Delta was the fourth named storm to strike Louisiana in 2020.

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