Thousands of people were in shelters and hundreds of thousands were without power in Louisiana Saturday evening in the wake of Hurricane Delta, which made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane Friday night in southwest Louisiana, miles from where Hurricane Laura made landfall six weeks ago.
Damage assessments were underway, and 3,000 National Guard members were supporting emergency operations, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a press conference Saturday evening. A number of roads were underwater and impassable, and some people had been rescued, Edwards said. The two storms have left about 10,000 people in shelters — many have been there since Hurricane Laura.
“As if Hurricane Laura wasn’t enough, we had to have Delta come through last night,” Edwards said. “While the storm wasn’t as powerful as Hurricane Laura, it was a very powerful storm, and it caused lots of damage.”
Delta made landfall Friday evening near the coastal town of Creole — only 15 miles or so from where Laura struck land in August, leading to the deaths of at least 26 people. It then moved directly over Lake Charles, a waterfront city about 30 miles inland where the earlier hurricane damaged nearly every home and building, and where moldy mattresses, sawed-up trees and other debris still lined the streets.
The highest rainfall totals were in Lake Charles, with 15 inches, Edwards said. Mississippi also got its fair share of rain overnight, and parts of Mississippi and Texas lost power.
“It was pretty disturbing,” said Marialisa Wyatt, 54, of the damage to her home in Lake Charles. Just six weeks ago, Laura left a hole in the roof of Wyatt’s childhood home. On Friday night, Delta added another two after winds ripped the blue tarp protecting her home off the roof.
Hurricane Delta in Louisiana:These photos show the aftermath
The latest as of 6 p.m. ET:
- More than 600,000 customers were without power in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, according to poweroutage.us. Peak power outages in Louisiana were around 688,000, compared to 615,000 customers who lost power in Hurricane Laura. Despite being a weaker storm than Laura, Delta’s bands went over some more populated areas.
- No deaths have been reported or attributed to the storm, Edwards said.
- Delta was expected to cross northern Mississippi and move into the Tennessee Valley later Saturday and Sunday, with heavy rain and scattered thunderstorms leading to the potential for flash flooding, the National Weather Service said.
Edwards said Hurricane Delta had behaved as forecasters had predicted and brought more wind and rain than Laura had. He said the next seven days were expected to bring dry, cool conditions. But it wasn’t time to go “sightseeing” the damage, Edwards said.
Of the fatalities attributable to Hurricane Laura, most happened due to carbon monoxide poisoning, injury or heat issues after the storm itself, Edwards said. He urged residents to be cautious.
“Everybody, please be careful, take frequent breaks,” Edwards said. “If you’re going to run a generator … please do it safely.”
A tornado watch was issued for eastern Alabama and west-central Georgia until 9 p.m. ET.
There were still several power lines down in Mississippi’s Natchez and Adams County, and some communities were still blocked from travel by downed trees, Mayor Dan Gibson said during a Facebook Live video.
Inmates, state workers and a sheriff’s deputy were working to clear the roads in Natchez State Park where a few campers were trapped behind blocked roads.
Vicki Brooks, 68, of Nashville, was about midway through a two-week road trip with her husband. The couple arrived with their camper on Wednesday.
“It was pretty scary,” Brooks said of the storm.
– Lici Beveridge, Giacomo Bologna and Justin Vicory, Mississippi Clarion Ledger | 2:30 p.m. ET
In Lake Charles, just north of Creole, semi trucks were turned over and piles of rubbish from Hurricane Laura were thrown around.
State Sen. Ronnie Johns said early Saturday that Delta is “worse than we even thought (in Lake Charles and Sulphur) again. We’re getting tore up again. It’s disheartening, but we’ll be OK.”
As Wyatt surveyed the damage at her Lake Charles home, she was amazed at the progress undone in recovery efforts from Hurricane Laura in just a few hours from Delta.
Stray shingles littered the front yard, along with downed tree limbs and other debris. The remainder of her fence, already wrecked by Laura, was plummeted by Delta. Clean up was ongoing, protective tarps will have to be secured again and belongings will have to be repurchased. But the hopefulness of the city is unwavering.
“The people of southwest Louisiana are very resilient,” Wyatt said. “We make it work. We’re survivors.”
In Delcambre, Catina Dooley walked through the flood water surrounding her home. She and her family had just moved their cattle back to their farm in Intercoastal City last week after having to evacuate the 100 head of cattle ahead of Hurricane Laura. Before Delta hit the area, the cattle had to be moved out again, the third time this year.
“It’s getting exhausting,” Dooley said.
Several Delcambre residents were out assessing the storm’s damage Saturday morning, by foot, boat and truck. In comparison to Laura, they said, there was a lot less water, but the winds were far worse. With many of the houses on stilts, neighbors used their boats to help others get to dry land. Many were without power.
– Brinley Hineman, The Tennessean, and Krista Johnson, The Montgomery Advertiser | 11:45 a.m. ET
Nearly 95,000 customers in Mississippi were without electricity as of Saturday morning. The Mississippi Department of Transportation reported trees and debris had blocked lanes of several highways in counties near the western border.
Parts of McComb near the Louisiana border lost power overnight, including the Waffle House off of I-55. The Waffle House, an informal bellwether of how an area is faring after a storm, remained open, despite the darkness. Employees used flashlights and cooked with gas to provide a limited menu.
Nell McDaniel, 47, and her family stood on the front porch of their mobile home in Franklin County outside Roxie, Saturday morning, debating how to tackle the tree limb sticking out of their roof. The power had been out since about 1 a.m.
McDaniel said she heard a loud “pop” overnight when the tree limb from a nearby tree fell and punctured the roof. Water leaked in through the morning, damaging part of the home.
“It was a lotta wind,” McDaniel said. “Not that much rain, but a lotta wind.”
McDaniel’s family hoisted her brother on the roof, then passed him a chainsaw. After he cut the limb down, he traded the chainsaw for a blue tarp. The family passed him tires to hold down the tarp on the roof as the rain started to pick up.
McDaniel said she rode out Hurricane Katrina in this mobile home. She said she hoped insurance will cover the damage, but she’ll figure out a way to fix it regardless.
“I’ve been living in a mobile home my whole life, but I’ve never ran,” McDaniel said. “This one took the cake a little.”
– Giacomo Bologna and Lici Beveridge, Mississippi Clarion Ledger | 11 a.m. ET
Almost 600,000 customers were without power in Louisiana early Saturday, according to poweroutage.us.
“Delta has left hazards like flooded roads, downed power lines and displaced wildlife in our communities that no one should take lightly,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday. “Everyone needs to remain vigilant, continue to listen to local officials and be safe.”
State police were urging residents to remain weather aware and avoid travel in inclement weather. In Acadiana, about 90 miles east of Creole where the storm made landfall, many traffic lights were out, and trees and power poles had fallen across roads.
Further east, in Delcambre, the streets of the small town known for its shrimp boat fleet were flooded.
In Lafayette, north of Delcambre, a large section of a law offices wall had fallen away, leaving bricks scattered on the road. The Vermillion River at Lafayette was at 16.6 feet just before 8 a.m. ET. Flood stage there is 10 feet. Bayou Vermillion near Carencro is at 16.19 feet; flood stage is 17 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.
In nearby Crowley, Darrell Segura, 58, was grilling hamburgers on a pit in front of Holy Temple Church Saturday morning. His home lost “one sheet of tin in the front and one mulberry tree in the back,” he said.
He rode out the storm overnight that and said the wind overnight reminded him of what he experienced as a teenager during Hurricane Audrey.
“I sit in the front room with the door open,” Segura said. “Tin was flying across the street. Sitting in my front room, I refuse to go to the door and stick my head out.”
– Barbara Leader, Lafayette Daily Advertiser | 9:30 a.m. ET
The mayor of Lake Charles in southwest Louisiana says tarps that were put up to protect buildings damaged six weeks ago by Hurricane Laura were flying off in Delta’s strong winds.
“Tarps are being blown off all throughout the city,” Mayor Nic Hunter said by phone after Delta made landfall Friday evening with winds topping 100 mph. He was hunkered down in a secure location in downtown Lake Charles.
He added: “I’m in a building right now with a tarp on it and just the sound of the tarp flapping on the building sounds like someone pounding with a sledge hammer on top of the building. It’s pretty intense.”
He said piles of unsecured debris from Laura are also being tossed about in Delta’s high winds. He said some of the debris was moving into the streets and floating in water.
— The Associated Press | 8:50 p.m. Friday
Delta radar, path: Map below updates in real-time
Louisiana has been a punching bag during the 2020 hurricane season, whether taking a glancing blow from Tropical Storm Cristobal in June, a whiff from Hurricane Marco in August, a haymaker from Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 and a late-round blow from Hurricane Delta on Friday night.
“This season has been relentless,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said earlier this week.
Ben Schott, the lead meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s New Orleans station, blamed La Niña as a major factor in the record-breaking season.
“If you go back to the beginning of the season it was forecast to be very active,” Schott said. “La Niña is a good setup for storms to develop in the Atlantic.”
As for why Louisiana has been a magnet for storms in 2020, Schott said: “It’s just bad luck.”
“I hate to say it that way, but it’s true,” he said. “I can’t give you a scientific reason we’ve been the target. It just seems like the atmospheric factors that steer these storms have set up to steer them our way this year.”
– Greg Hilburn, Monroe News-Star