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‘Sheer anxiety’: Louisiana braces itself for Hurricane Delta

Published:Thursday | October 8, 2020 | 9:24 AM
Stephanie Verrett and Jodie Jones fill sandbags to protect their home in anticipation of Hurricane Delta, which is expected to arrive along the Gulf Coast later this week in Houma, Louisiana. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

MORGAN CITY, Louisiana (AP) — Louisiana residents still recovering from the devastation of a powerful hurricane less than two months ago braced for another hit as Hurricane Delta steamed north through the Gulf on Thursday after swiping Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Forecasters warned that the storm could blow ashore Friday with winds of up to 100 miles per hour and a storm surge of up to 11 feet. They placed most of Louisiana within Delta’s path, including the southwest area of the state around Lake Charles, where Category 4 Hurricane Laura ripped houses from their foundations, peeled off roofs and tore trailers in half on August 27.

Nearly six weeks later, 5,600 people remain in New Orleans hotels because their homes are too damaged to occupy.

Trees, roofs and other debris left in Laura’s wake still sit by roadsides waiting for pickup even as forecasters warned that Delta could be a larger than average storm.

The large majority of structures damaged by Laura haven’t been permanently repaired, Governor John Bel Edwards noted on Wednesday.

“All that debris could become missiles in really strong wind,” said Edwards, who also worried about the “sheer anxiety” the storm could cause already traumatised residents.

“We don’t want a hurricane to hit anywhere, but we know that the area that is least prepared and ready for a storm happens to be southwest Louisiana,” he said.

Edwards said President Donald Trump approved his request to declare a federal emergency, which frees up federal resources.

This is the sixth time in the Atlantic hurricane season that people in Louisiana have been forced to flee the state’s barrier islands and sailboats to safe harbour while emergency officials ramp up command centers and consider ordering evacuations.

In neighbouring Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves also declared a state of emergency.

The Southern part of Mississippi could see heavy rain and flash flooding.

Hurricane Delta is the 25th named storm of the Atlantic’s unprecedented hurricane season.

Delta hit Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane just south of the resort city of Cancun early Wednesday with high winds and heavy rain, cutting power to more than 260,000 customers and forcing tourists into storm shelters. No deaths or injuries were reported.

The storm weakened to a Category 1 storm Wednesday afternoon but had already restrengthened to a Category 2 by Thursday morning, with sustained winds near 100 miles per hour..

The storm was expected to become a major hurricane by Thursday night, with some weakening forecast once Delta approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Friday.

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