Residents in south Louisiana braced to relive a nightmare Friday as bands of rain from approaching Hurricane Delta began soaking the same area of the state that was badly battered by a deadly hurricane six weeks ago.
The streets were largely vacant in the city of Lake Charles, where Hurricane Laura destroyed buildings in late August. Blue-tarped roofs stretched as far as the eye could see, and rain pooled around piles of moldy mattresses, sawed-up trees and other leftover debris that officials worried could cause more damage or deaths when Delta hits.
The first tropical storm force winds brushed the Louisiana coast Friday morning. At midday, the storm was 95 miles south-southwest of the coastal community of Cameron. Blustery winds ahead of the storm’s arrival began picking up at midday along with the rain.
“We just got lights back on like two weeks ago and then evacuating again? It’s extremely hard,” said Roslyn Kennedy. She was among a handful of evacuees at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, waiting to be transported, again, to safer destinations.
Forecasters said the 25th named storm of an unprecedented Atlantic hurricane season would likely crash ashore Friday evening somewhere on southwest Louisiana’s coast. Hurricane warnings stretched from High Island, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana.
The question was whether Delta would remain at a devastating Category 3 strength. It had sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) as of midday Friday. Forecasters expected the strength to diminish to a still dangerous Category 2, with winds as high as 110 miles per hour (177 kph).
Some residents were staying put, despite the danger. Ernest Jack remained in his Lake Charles house, one of those with a blue-tarped roof. He had gathered food, plenty of water and had covered his windows to protect against flying debris during Delta.