Hurricane Delta made landfall in Louisiana on Friday, packing maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour (155 kph), the US National Hurricane Center said, hitting a corner of the state repeatedly battered by storms this year.
The center Delta, a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, hit land at 6 p.m. Friday near the Gulf Coast town of Creole, the NHC said.
In nearby Lake Charles city, the streets were deserted on Friday as residents fled ahead of time, filling hotels or taking shelter away from the storm’s path.
“In this community, there are a lot of homes that were damaged and so a lot of people are concerned about staying in that structure again,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said in an interview.
Hurricane Laura, which struck the state with 150 mph winds in late August, “is still very fresh and very raw and I think that had something to do with more people evacuating for Delta,” Hunter said.
Schools and government offices were closed and officials in a dozen parishes called for evacuations. Residents bordered windows, sandbagged doors and moved out of the storm’s path.
“Let’s prepare for the worst and certainly pray for the best -and be good neighbors to one another,” Governor John Bel Edwards said. The state has called up 2 500 members of the national guard, and pre-positioned supplies to prepare for the storm. A shelter that in the past held 2 000 people had to refer arrivals elsewhere because of pandemic restrictions, he said.
Laura damaged tens of thousands of homes, leaving roofs throughout the region dotted with protective blue tarps, and left more than 6 000 people still living temporarily in hotels.
Floria Semien, 62, and her family took shelter in a hotel after leaving their home near Lake Charles two days after its electric power was restored from Laura.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “My family made it out OK so we just are going to put one foot in front of the other.”
Along a pasture east of Lake Charles, Addison Alford manned a mobile weather radar station brought in from Oklahoma on Thursday because the permanent station was damaged during Laura.
He and a colleague plan to ride out the storm from inside a heavy vehicle equipped with a radar dish. “We’re really trying to make sure the data streams stay up during the entire event,” he said.
Energy companies have shut 1.7 million barrels per day, or 92% of the Gulf’s oil output, as of midday Friday, the most since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 100 offshore platforms and hobbled output for months. The US Coast Guard closed ports from Beaumont, Texas, to Lake Charles ahead of the storm.
When Delta reaches the northern Gulf Coast, it will be the 10th named storm to make a US landfall this year, eclipsing a record that has stood since 1916.