Hurricane Delta Slams Into Louisiana

This satellite image shows Hurricane Delta moving through Louisiana Friday night. (Courtesy of NOAA)

NEW ORLEANS (CN) — Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole, Louisiana Friday night as a Category 2 storm, with 100 mph winds in roughly the same area that was ravaged by Hurricane Laura six weeks ago.

The outer bands of the hurricane lashed through Lake Charles, about 30 miles away, with gusts of wind as powerful as 70 mph.

In that city, where 95% of buildings had sustained damage from Hurricane Laura, there was little doubt Friday evening the storm would cause major devastation. 

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said earlier in the day that many buildings in town will need to be torn down, according to CBS News. Delta brought high winds and flash floods as Lake Charles Friday evening had already gotten 12 inches of rain.

At Texas Point on the Texas-Louisiana border, Delta brought 101 mph winds.

Almost 40 miles to the east of Lake Charles, in the town of Jennings, the chief of police reportedly asked residents who did not heed a mandatory call for evacuation to dial 911 and leave their names and addresses so law enforcement can check in on them Saturday morning, according to a report from CBS News.

After making landfall, Delta downgraded to a Category 1 and continued its path of havoc into Louisiana and Mississippi, bringing with it high winds, flash flooding and the risk of tornadoes.

Residents prepared their homes for Delta, the sixth major storm of the season, by once again filling sandbags and boarding up windows.

Delta has broken several records for firsts. It is the earliest storm named after the Greek alphabet to form in the Atlantic. Its rapid intensification earlier in the week, when it grew from a tropical depression into a Category 4 in 30 hours, was a first, and touching down near Lake Charles placed 2020 as a first for two hurricanes making landfall in the same place in a single season.

On Wednesday, prior to its anticipated landfall in Louisiana, Delta slammed into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. 

“You need to finish getting your game plan in order, if you haven’t done that already,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards urged residents Thursday afternoon during a press conference in which he asked residents not to travel at all Friday if possible because of the risk of high winds from the major storm.

“It is very clear that southwest Louisiana is going to get more of a punch from this than we would like to see for sure because we are still trying to recover from Laura,” Edwards said.

Delta made landfall Friday around 6 p.m. within 30 miles of where Hurricane Laura touched down Aug. 27, causing at least 77 deaths and an estimated $14.1 billion in damages. Louisiana residents are still reeling from Laura, 6,600 of whom are still in state-run shelter situations, mostly hotels around the state.

Residents of four southwestern Louisiana parishes, including Cameron Parish, were under mandatory evacuation orders.

Cameron Parish Sheriff Ron Johnson told local media early Friday when winds reach tropical storm levels, he and his deputies “stay tight and stay off the roads,” but they are keeping in touch with 100 people who said they plan to stay home and ride out the storm.

Standing in front of his house covered in a blue tarp from Hurricane Laura damage, Joshua Espree, 30, plans on staying in Lake Charles, La., and helping his family as Hurricane Delta approaches Friday. (Chris Granger /The Advocate via AP)

“We get a name and address and a number of occupants to see who is there. Then we would come back in and check on everyone to see if everyone is OK,” he told KPLC, an NBC station in Lake Charles.

In Port Arthur, Texas, 60 miles southwest of Lake Charles, Mayor Thurman Bartie on Thursday recommended people evacuate from the Sabine Pass neighborhood, on the west bank of the Sabine River, the border between Texas and Louisiana.

Bartie said all the city’s residents should have bags packed and be ready to quickly flee out of Delta’s path.

The Coast Guard in New Orleans said it has staged eight helicopters, four planes and seven water-rescue teams with more than 20 boats.

“We are prepared, we’re ready, we understand what we need to do and how we need to do it,” said Captain Will Watson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans.

Workers have been evacuated from 279 Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production rigs, shutting down operations that had been churning out 1.67 million barrels of crude and 1.675 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, Reuters reported.

Oil prices are projected to rise 10% this week with Delta shutting down 92% of the Gulf’s oil output and a strike by oil workers in Norway cutting into production from rigs in the North Sea.

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