Nicholas delivers another hit to La.

‘Despondent’ residents still recovering from Ida

- John Bacon

More than 100,000 Texas homes and businesses were without power as the remnants of Hurricane Nicholas slid across the Gulf Coast from the Lone Star State into Louisiana, drenching a region still staggering from Hurricane Ida’s wrath less than three weeks ago.

Nicholas was downgraded to a tropical depression with sustained winds of 30 mph and was inching east-northeast Wednesday at 5 mph.

“Much of South & Central Louisiana are under flood watch today as #Nicholas moves through the state,” Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted Wednesday. Earlier, Edwards warned the state’s residents to “take this storm seriously.”

Almost 80,000 utility customers remained without power in the state, where the lights went out for more than 1 million homes and businesses during Ida’s peak fury.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said city crews had scoured the drainage system to keep it free from debris that might cause clogs and flooding. Hurricane Laura struck the city a little more than a year ago. Then came Hurricane Delta, then a January freeze that shattered pipes across the city of nearly 80,000 just 60 miles east of Beaumont, Texas. A rainstorm in May swamped houses and businesses yet again.

“With what people have gone through over the last 16 months here in Lake Charles, they are very, understand­ably despondent, emotional,” Hunter said. “Any time we have even a hint of a weather event approachin­g, people get scared.”

In Pointe-aux-Chenes, 70 miles southwest of New Orleans, Ida tore the tin roof off Terry and Patti Dardar’s home, leaving them without power and water. Rain from Nicholas has now soaked the top floor of their home – but it also brought badly needed water the family collected in jugs. They poured the water into a large plastic container through a strainer, and a pump powered by a generator brought the water inside.

“We ain’t got no other place,” Patti Dardar said. “This is our home.”

The National Weather Center warned that Nicholas, which already dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of Texas and several inches on areas of Louisiana, was expected to generate an additional 3 to 6 inches across the central Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississipp­i, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle through Friday, with isolated totals of 10 more inches possible in some areas.

The storm was forecast to gradually dissipate over central Louisiana on Thursday.

Hurricane Nicholas made landfall early Tuesday along the Matagorda Peninsula with torrential rains and storm surge. The cleanup was in full swing in Texas, where more than 14 inches of rain fell on parts of the Galveston area. Houston was hit with 6 inches.

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