Six weeks after Hurricane Laura exploded across southwest Louisiana, residents are spending the weekend repairing new damage after the hurricane delta roared into the storm-hit area.
The storm landed near the coastal town of Creole Friday night as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph, just 13 miles east of where Laura rolled inland as a Category 4 storm in late August.
Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the storm had thrown more than 15 inches of rain on Lake Charles and more than 10 inches in Baton Rouge in two days, with flooding being the biggest impact of this latest storm.
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Delta also had a “much larger”
The governor said that poweroutage.us tracking power outages reported a high of 638,000 customers without power, which has since fallen to around 358,000 on Sunday morning.
“So the restoration seems to be faster than after Laura, and that’s because the damage to the infrastructure is not that significant. But that’s still a lot of power outages,” said the governor.
No deaths had been reported as of Saturday night, but Laura did remind that tracking a hurricane can be treacherous. Seven of the 32 deaths attributed to Laura occurred on the day of the hurricane.
Many others were caused by generator carbon monoxide poisoning, and on Saturday 10,000 utility workers were dispatched to restore electricity to thousands of customers.
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Delta roared over the Lake Charles area after landing, where Laura damaged almost every home and business in late August. Many of the structures had blue tarpaulin to hide roof damage.
Earnestine and Milton Wesley told the Associated Press that they had decided to weather the storm in their damaged home, but spent Friday night holding onto their tarpaulin while water poured in.
“We fought all night to keep things intact,” Milton said on Saturday. “And with God’s help we did it.”
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Saturday he estimated that hundreds of damaged homes across the city had absorbed water from deltas of heavy rainfall.
“Put Laura and Delta together and it’s just absolutely unprecedented and catastrophic,” said Hunter. “We are very concerned that given the current situation in the country, this incident may not be as on the radar as it should be.”
Piles of unsecured debris from Laura were also tossed around in the gusty winds of the storm and pushed away in the high tide.
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Some folks who have done drywall or repairs after Laura have had to start over after their work got soaked from Delta’s heavy rains.
Lake Charles-based Katie Prejean McGrady had just returned to her home last week with her family who had lost part of their roof, fence, and swing in Laura. Her family then had to evacuate when Delta targeted the area.
“I am taxed. And I think that’s most of the people in town, ”she told the AP. “There is a mental exhaustion that sets in, and then there is the fear of ‘Is anyone outside this region interested?'”
In Jennings town, residents said they had just cleaned Laura’s cut branches and power lines. Now Delta left another path of damage.
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“We’re deaf, we’re really deaf,” Ralph LeBlanc told The New Orleans Advocate. “This town has all been cleaned up, we only cleaned it up last week. Of course we’re without electricity, but we’re almost used to it. “
Edwards said Delta had disrupted government efforts to set up shelters in southwest Louisiana to bring back the Laura evacuees scattered over hotels.
More than 9,400 people were protected by the state on Saturday, but only 935 were Delta evacuees, Edwards said. The others were still being evicted by Laura.
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The remains of Delta are now pushing over the southeast, bringing heavy rains to the region. Forecasters said Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia could see 3 to 6 inches of rain on Sunday.
Forecasters add that some short tornadoes are possible in the Carolinas on Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.