Hurricane Delta makes landfall in Louisiana as a Cat. 2 storm

KABC logo
Friday, October 9, 2020
Louisiana braces to relive a nightmare with Hurricane Delta
Hurricane Delta is bringing bands of rain and blustery winds to Louisiana as it spins toward the state's southwest coast.

Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole, Louisiana, around 6 p.m. as a Category 2 storm, the National Weather Service said Friday.

Delta packed maximum sustained winds of 100 mph as it brought bands of rain and damaging winds to Louisiana.

It's the 25th named storm of an unprecedented Atlantic hurricane season and the first "Greek-named" hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland.

That part of Louisiana is where Hurricane Laura caused more than 30 deaths in late August. Businesses have boarded up and people rushed to prepare before hunkering down or leaving for safety elsewhere.

Piles of wreckage could go flying and many homes remain unrepaired, with only blue tarps on rooftops to withstand the fury of yet another hurricane.

Delta is the 10th named storm to hit the continental United State this year, breaking a century-old record. It is also the fourth named storm to strike storm-weary Louisiana this year -- something that has never happened before.

Thankfully, the storm is expected to keep moving quickly. So while it may still pack quite the punch, it is not expected to linger over Louisiana.

Still, the rain is going to fall in bunches. The National Weather Service is warning Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and others that significant flash flooding is likely.

Wednesday, the storm made landfall about 10 miles south of Cancun, Mexico as a category 2 storm. It knocked out power to about 266,000 people, but no deaths were reported.

IN THE MIDDLE OF A HURRICANE: Storm chaser takes us inside Delta

What's it like in the middle of a hurricane as it's bearing down on you? A storm chaser takes us inside Delta.

Boarded windows and empty sidewalks made parts of Louisiana's Acadiana region look like empty movie sets Thursday as Delta moved closer.

Storm surge risk remains high, the National Hurricane Center said.

People in this battered coastal region were taking Delta seriously.

"You can always get another house another car but not another life," said Hilton Stroder as he and his wife Terry boarded up their Abbeville home with plans to head to their son's house further east.

This is the sixth time this season that Louisiana has been threatened by tropical storms or hurricanes. One fizzled at the southeast Louisiana tip and others veered elsewhere but Tropical Storm Cristobal caused damage in southeast Louisiana in June. And Laura demolished much of the southwestern part of the state on Aug. 27, causing more than 30 deaths.

Life wasn't at a complete standstill though. A gas station was doing steady business as people filled their cars and spare gasoline cans and a grocery store served last customers stocking up. Similar scenes played out not far away in New Iberia, where the few signs of life included cars lined up at a drive-thru daquiri shop and people grabbing food at take-out restaurants.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards noted in a radio show that Delta appeared headed for the area near the Texas state line that was devastated by Laura, including Lake Charles and surrounding Calcasieu Parish, and rural Cameron Parish on the coast. "And we've got people who are very tired," he noted.

"People of Lake Charles and in Cameron Parish have already suffered enough, and then here comes this one," said Desi Milligan, who owns an RV park in Cameron that was heavily damaged by Laura.

People in the disaster zone had unusual clarity about the damage Delta's storm surge could cause. It was predicted to reach as high as 11 feet (3.4 meters) along a stretch from the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge near the Texas state line to Morgan City, Louisiana. Laura - which made landfall in the same area on Aug. 27 as a Category 4 hurricane with top winds of 150 mph (240 kph) - pushed a storm surge that reached 12 feet (4 meters), Edwards said.

Reminders of Laura's danger are everywhere in the region. In nearby Bell City, some debris piles are more than 6 feet (2 meters) high and 75 feet (23 meters) long. Concerns mounted Friday that Delta's arrival would cause the debris to become airborne, deadly projectiles.

Though homes and farmhouses in the area still stood, blue tarps covered many rooftops with lingering damage from Laura. In Cameron Parish, power poles along Highway 27 in a desolate stretch of marsh were all either broken or leaning - none appeared to have been repaired since the August storm.

A few miles down the road, Creole presented a scene of utter devastation under an overcast sky that soon gave way to pouring rain. Where there used to be buildings, exposed slabs remained. A church and a convenience store had been reduced to debris, and fences were blown over or completely torn down.

New Orleans, well east of the projected landfall area, was expected to escape Delta's worst impacts. But tropical storm force winds were still likely in the city on Friday, and local officials said they were preparing for the possibility of tornadoes.

And in Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency like his counterpart Edwards did in Louisiana. Forecasters said southern Mississippi could see heavy rain and flash flooding.

In Abbeville, Tony Russo was loading up on groceries late Thursday. "I don't know really any different," he replied when asked his reaction to the busy storm season. "You're here. If you love it you stay," he said. But he added with a chuckle: "2020 has been a hell of a year."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.