Hurricane Delta delivers Louisiana another blow as residents say they're 'numb' after latest storm
Delta roared over Lake Charles, which was still recovering from Hurricane Laura
Six weeks after Hurricane Laura blasted throughout southwest Louisiana, residents are spending the weekend cleaning up new damage after Hurricane Delta roared into the storm-battered region.
The storm made landfall Friday night near the coastal town of Creole as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph, just 13 miles east of where Laura barreled inland in late August as a Category 4 storm.
At a news conference on Saturday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the storm dumped more than 15 inches of rain on Lake Charles over two days and more than 10 inches in Baton Rouge, with flooding being the biggest impact from this latest storm.
TROPICAL STORM DELTA DEPARTS LOUISIANA, LEAVES FRESH DESTRUCTION IN ITS WAKE
Delta also had a "much larger" wind field than Laura, which knocked out power to more than 600,000 customers, roughly 25% of all power customers in the entire state, according to Edwards.
The governor said a peak of 638,000 customers without power was reported, which has since dropped to around 358,000 as of Sunday morning, according to power-outage tracking website poweroutage.us.
"So restoration appears to be happening more rapidly than was the case after Laura, and that’s because the damage to the infrastructure is not as significant. But that’s still an awful lot of power outages,” the governor said.
No deaths had been reported by Saturday evening, but Laura was a reminder that a hurricane’s wake can be treacherous. Seven of the 32 deaths attributed to Laura came the day that hurricane struck.
Many others were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, and 10,000 utility workers were dispatched Saturday to get power restored to thousands of customers.
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Delta roared over the Lake Charles region after landfall, where Laura had damaged nearly every home and business in late August. Many of the structures had blue tarps to conceal roof damage.
Earnestine and Milton Wesley told the Associated Press they decided to ride out the storm in their damaged home but found themselves spending Friday night holding onto their tarp tight as water poured in.
“We fought all night long trying to keep things intact,” Milton said Saturday. “And with God’s help, we made it.”
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Saturday he estimated that hundreds of damaged homes across the city took on water from Delta's heavy rains.
“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.”
Piles of unsecured debris from Laura were also tossed around in the storm's gusty winds and pushed away in floodwaters.
DELTA NOW A TROPICAL STORM; NEARLY 500K LOUISIANA HOMES LOSE POWER
Some people who had already done drywall repair or replacement after Laura are finding themselves having to start over again after their work got drenched by Delta's heavy rains.
Lake Charles resident Katie Prejean McGrady had only just returned last week to her home with her family, which had lost part of their roof, fence, and swing set in Laura. Her family then had to evacuate when Delta took aim at the region.
“I’m taxed out. And I think that’s most people in town,” she told the AP. “There’s a mental exhaustion that sets in and then there’s a fear of ‘Does anybody outside this region care?’”
In the town of Jennings, residents said they had just finished cleaning downed tree limbs and power lines from Laura. Now Delta left behind another path of damage.
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“We’re numb, we’re really numb,” Ralph LeBlanc told The New Orleans Advocate. “This town was all cleaned up, we just got it cleaned up last week. Of course, we’re without electricity, but we’re just about used to that.”
Edwards said Delta disrupted state efforts to set up temporary housing in southwest Louisiana to bring back Laura evacuees scattered across hotels.
More than 9,400 people were being sheltered by the state Saturday, but only 935 were Delta evacuees, Edwards said. The others were still displaced by Laura.
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The remnants of Delta are now pushing across the Southeast, bringing heavy rains across the region. Forecasters said that 3 to 6 inches of rain is possible in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia on Sunday.
Forecasters add that a few brief tornadoes are possible in the Carolinas on Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.