Delta ill winds are lat­est blow to La.

Res­i­dents reel­ing from ear­lier storm face painful rou­tine

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD - By Re­becca San­tana, Stacey Plai­sance and Alanna Durkin Richer

LAKE CHARLES, La. — The day after Hur­ri­cane Delta blew through be­sieged south­ern Louisiana, res­i­dents started the rou­tine again: dodg­ing over­turned cars, trudg­ing throughkne­e-deep­wa­ter to flooded homes with ru­ined floors and no power, and pledg­ing to re­build after the storm.

Delta made land­fall Fri­day evening near the coastal Louisiana town of Cre­ole with top winds of 100 mph. It then moved over Lake Charles, a city whereHur­ri­cane Laura dam­aged nearly ev­ery home and build­ing in late Au­gust. No deaths had been re­ported as of Satur­day af­ter­noon, but of­fi­cials said peo­ple were not out of dan­ger.

While Delta was a weaker storm than Cat­e­gory 4 Laura, it brought sig­nif­i­cantly more flood­ing, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said. He es­ti­mated that hun­dreds of al­ready bat­tered homes across the city took on wa­ter. The re­cov­ery from the dou­ble im­pact will be long, the mayor said.

“Add Laura and Delta to­gether and it’s just ab­so­lutely un­prece­dented and cat­a­strophic,” Hunter said. “We are very con­cerned that with ev­ery­thing go­ing in the coun­try right now that this in­ci­dent may not be on the radar na­tion­ally like it should be.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Ed­wards said no fa­tal­i­ties had been re­ported as of Satur­day, but a hur­ri­cane’s wake can be treach­er­ous. Only seven of the 32 deaths in Louisiana and Texas at­trib­uted to Laura came the day that hur­ri­cane struck. A lead­ing cause of the oth­ers was car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing from gen­er­a­tors used in build­ings with­out elec­tric­ity.

Delta, the 25th named storm of an un­prece­dented At­lantic hur­ri­cane sea­son, was the 10th named storm to hit the main­land U.S. this year, break­ing a record set in 1916, Colorado State Univer­sity re­searcher Phil Klotzbach said.

It rapidly weak­ened over land and slowed into a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion Satur­day morn­ing. Fore­cast­ers

warned that heavy rain, storm surges and flash floods con­tin­ued to pose dan­gers in ar­eas fromTexas to Mis­sis­sippi. Large swells and rip cur­rents closed beaches down to theMex­i­can bor­der.

Rem­nants of the storm also could spawn­tor­na­does in theTen­nesseeVal­ley into Sun­day, and flash floods could hit the south­ern Ap­palachi­ans, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said.

Louisiana avoided one feared sce­nario: that the winds would pick up the de­bris left by Laura — piles of soggy in­su­la­tion, moldy mat­tresses, tree limbs and twisted metal sid­ing — and turn it into pro­jec­tiles. In at least some neigh­bor­hoods, the small mountains stood on curbs more or less in­tact.

Delta in­flicted most of its dam­age with rain in­stead wind. It dumped more than 15 inches of rain on Lake Charles over two days and more than 10 inches on Ba­ton Rouge. South­west parishes such as Cameron, Jef­fer­son Davis, Ver­mil­ion and Aca­dia that sus­tained heavy blows from Laura took the hard­est hit.

The gov­er­nor cau­tioned that it would be dif­fi­cult to distin­guish the dam­age Delta caused fromwhat­was left­over from the Au­gust hur­ri­cane. More than 9,400 peo­plewere be­ing shel­tered by the state Satur­day, but only 935 were Delta evac­uees, Ed­wards said. The oth­ers were still dis­placed by Laura.

Ed­wards said 3,000Louisia­na Na­tional Guard sol­diers were mo­bi­lized to

clear roads and to dis­trib­ute meals and tarps, and 10,000 util­ity work­ers were work­ing to get power re­stored to nearly 600,000 cus­tomers.

With the wa­ter kneedeep along Le­gion Street in Lake Charles, res­i­dent Pa­trick King had to wade through the wa­ter Satur­day to get to his home after he re­turned from­spend­ing the night in Beau­mont, Texas.

“I was hop­ing and pray­ing that it didn’t get into the house, but it did. It rose up close to the fur­ni­ture,” King said.

“It’s to­tally frus­trat­ing and in fact, it makes you want to give up, but you have to­keep­on­push­ing,” he said. “Me and my wife, we are pray­ing peo­ple, so we just be­lieve that God let things hap­pen for a rea­son.”

The dam­age also stretched in­land, with trees shorn of leaves and fall­ing onto streets in Louisiana’s cap­i­tal of Ba­ton Rouge. The storm blew down two homes un­der con­struc­tion in Galve­ston, Texas, and top­pled the steeple of a church in Jen­nings, Louisiana.

Cal­casieu Sher­iff Tony Man­cuso told KPLC-TV that the ve­hi­cles over­turned on­the in­ter­state should give pause to any­one think­ing about rush­ing back to the dis­as­ter area.

“Ris­ing­wa­ter with all the rain is the big­gest prob­lem,” Man­cuso said. “It’s still dan­ger­ous out there, and we’re just go­ing to have to start over froma fewweeks ago.”

The U.S. Gulf Coast is no stranger to hur­ri­canes, and its peo­ple are re­silient, Lake Charles res­i­dent Katie Pre­jean McGrady said. But the dou­ble punch of the backto-back storms — on top of the pan­demic — has left many in the com­mu­nity reel­ing, she said.

“I’m taxed out. And I think that’s most peo­ple in town,” she said. “There’s a men­tal ex­haus­tion that sets in and then there’s a fear of D`oes any­body out­side this re­gion care?’ ” she said. “The re­al­ity is our town won’t be the same for a year, if not longer.”

McGrady and her fam­ily had just re­turned to their home­for the first time since evac­u­at­ing ahead of Hur­ri­cane Laura when she was nine months preg­nant. They ar­rived back in Lake Charles two weeks ago, got a new roof on Mon­day and had to evac­u­ate again Thurs­day.

“My hus­band­hadn’t even un­packed his suit­case,” McGrady said. “I had just put awaymy daugh­ter’s toys.”


Michael McDon­ald clears trees Satur­day after Hur­ri­cane Delta passed through the area in Jen­nings, Louisiana.

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