Hurricane Delta Pummels Exhausted Louisiana Coastline, Threatens New Devastation

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How much is home worth to you?

That’s the question Cameron Parish residents like Casey Bridges have answered time and time and time again. After losing three homes to prior hurricanes, Bridges was on the move again this week, this time evacuating from a ferocious Hurricane Delta just weeks after relocating for Hurricane Laura.

“That’s the price you pay to live down here and we love it,” he told AccuWeather National Reporter Jonathan Petramala. “So we’re not going to leave.”

The Cameron Parish area is “a community that’s well put together,” as Bridges’ neighbor Shane Conner told Petramala.

As Hurricane Delta bore down on the Bayou State coast on late Friday afternoon, communities like those of Bridges’ and Conner’s were put to the test on just how well put together they really are. The Category 2 hurricane made landfall near Creole, Louisiana, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 100 mph, a scene Louisiana residents have become all too familiar with this year. Creole sits nearly 13 miles east of Cameron, Louisiana, where Laura made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane.

Storm surge rose quickly along the western and central coast of Louisiana on Friday ahead of Delta’s landfall. One water gauge at Freshwater Canal Locks, Louisiana, reported a storm surge of 9 feet above normal tide level by landfall on Friday evening, according to NOAA. This is the highest storm surge report so far among gauges in the region.

As the outer bands of Delta lashed out against the Gulf Coast ahead of landfall, power outages began to climb across Texas and Louisiana. By late afternoon on Friday, more than 82,000 customers throughout the two states were without power, according to PowerOutage.US.

As the eyewall moved onshore around 5 p.m. CDT, transformers reportedly began to falter and trees gave in to the unrelenting winds.

At Delta’s landfall around 6 p.m., the number of customers without power across the two states swelled to more than 160,000. Within the hour, that number in Louisiana alone rose to over 190,000 with nearly 88,000 customers without power in Texas.

CBN News Contributor Chuck Holton is on the ground providing a firsthand look as he rides out the storm and reports live from the Louisiana coastline.

By late Friday night, approximately 17.02 inches of rain fell in a rain gauge east of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Bell City, Louisiana, was close behind with 16.31 inches of rainfall.

Delta weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 90 mph around 7 p.m, but power outages continued to mount. By later Friday evening, more than 360,000 customers were without power in Louisiana and over 100,000 without power in Texas.

AccuWeather National Reporter Jonathan Petramala captured a purple sky over Cypremort Point, Louisiana, on Oct. 9 after Hurricane Delta had blown through. (AccuWeather/Jonathan Petramala)

As the hurricane trekked northward, weakening along its path, Petramala snapped a photo in Cypremort Point, Louisiana, of a vivid, purple sky. The rare phenomenon is caused by just the angle of the sun and the saturation of the atmosphere being just right

After weakening to a tropical storm around 1 a.m. local time Saturday, Delta lost more strength and eventually became a tropical depression as it moved over western Mississippi. As of 10 a.m. Saturday morning, Delta had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and was about 65 miles north-northwest of Jackson, Mississippi.

Although Delta continued to weaken, power outages steadily rose. By 8:45 a.m. CDT on Saturday morning, 593,432 customers were without power in Louisiana and 104,539 without power in Texas. More than 74,000 outages were reported in Mississippi.

Just 43 days earlier, Hurricane Laura struck a similar area of southwestern Louisiana, making landfall in Cameron Parish with wind speeds that matched the strongest hurricane in state history. When Delta made its landfall at 6 p.m. CDT, it became the fourth named storm of the hyperactive 2020 Atlantic season to strike the state.

The destruction already wrought from Laura will likely keep the economic impact from Delta from being worse than it could’ve been.

The estimated damage total and economic loss due to Hurricane Delta in the US is expected to be somewhere between $4 billion and $6 billion-plus an additional $1 billion of damage that occurred earlier this week in Cancun, according to AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers.

“Our estimate of the economic damage caused by the storm is primarily due to powerful wind gusts, coastal storm surge, and some flash flooding. Our estimate might have been even higher had it not been for destruction already caused by Hurricane Laura in August. Many families are still using tarps to cover their roofs,” Myers said.“We factor into our estimate damage to homes and business as well as their contents and cars, jobs and wage losses, agricultural losses, infrastructure damage, damage to businesses and their buildings and contents, and the costs of power outages to businesses and residents.” Myers added that the estimate also includes economic losses related to highway closures, evacuations, increased insurance premiums, rescue, and recovery, clean up, and flight cancelations.

For Louisiana residents, that meant another round of tropical haymakers striking areas already on wobbly legs. Or in Conner’s case, an already-damaged house.

“No, it’s really not worth it,” Conner said when asked if he would stay in town for the arrival of Hurricane Delta. “You know we can always replace things like that but we can’t replace lives,” he mused. “I have cracks in my bricks, cracks in my slab. The top structure stayed but the bottom structure had to take a lot to hold it in place.”

In Lake Charles, another area that was devastated by Laura, Mayor Nic Hunter thanked his city employees for their resiliency and hard work in the face of such severe storms in short time.

Cameron Parish resident Casey Bridges has seen the destruction of hurricanes before, as he told AccuWeather he had lost three homes to storms before. (Drone footage via Brandon Clement)

“For the citizens of Lake Charles, please know that your City employees have worked and toiled to prepare this City as much as humanly possible for Hurricane Delta,” Hunter said in a statement on Facebook. “You should be very proud of them. Next time you see a City employee, thank them, no matter what department they work for. Every department and division should be commended.”

For the second time in six weeks, residents from Lake Charles, many of whom still have blue tarps covering their homes in place of missing roofs, were evacuating again as mandatory orders for the city and the rest of Calcasieu Parish were issued on Wednesday. Mandatory evacuations were also enacted for Cameron Parish and Jeff Davis Parish.

Blue tarps still cover many homes in Lake Charles, illustrating the short turnaround between hurricanes for the area. (Drone footage via Brandon Clement)

The result? Bumper-to-bumper traffic along I-10 as residents seek to get away from the coast.

“It really is a scary proposition for Lake Charles,” Mayor Hunter said in another Facebook video post. “I cannot encourage people enough to evacuate.”

Hunter said Saturday morning that Delta was more of a water event than a wind event for the city and noted that some houses did get several inches of water inside of them.

“Electricity is out citywide,” Hunter said. “Today is not the day to come back to LC, if you can avoid it. Allow our public safety and other city personnel to do their job today in starting to pick up the pieces.”

Many from the state hit the road early this week, and for good measure. The impacts from Delta started arriving early, as over nine inches of rain were recorded in Denham Springs while around eight inches rain were recorded in Baton Rouge and Greenwell Springs since Thursday. For the capital city of Baton Rouge, the 7.97 inches were over 3 inches more than the typical October rainfall measured for the entire month.

The pounding precipitation triggered flooding in the capital city early Friday morning and led officials to encourage residents to stay off the streets at a time when late-leavers may have been making a last-minute decision to evacuate.

Traffic from evacuating residents stretched for miles on I-10 as people rushed away from the shore. (Drone footage via Brandon Clement)

Residents from the state have every reason to be utterly storm-exhausted by this point. Along with being the fourth named storm to hit the state this year, not to mention the two other systems that threatened the area, Delta’s landfall marked the 10th Atlantic basin storm to hit U.S. soil this season, a new record. The previous record was held by the 1916 season, according to Colorado State University scientist Phil Klotzbach.

The hectic season has outnumbered the list of 21 names designated to identify systems, forcing the National Hurricane Center to resort to using the Greek alphabet for only the second time ever. When Delta hit land on Friday, it became the first Greek letter-named hurricane to ever make landfall in the U.S.

Hurricane Delta also dealt an immense offshore blow to the region’s oil and natural gas output in the Gulf Coast. According to Reuters, the hurricane halted all of the oil output and nearly two-thirds of natural gas output from offshore facilities.

Nearly 300 offshore facilities were evacuated and 15 drilling rigs had to be moved away from the breadth of Delta’s winds. The consequence has hit Americans in the wallet, as natural gas prices on Friday were on track to close at the highest since November 2019.

Delta has shut 1.67 million barrels per day, or 92% of the Gulf’s oil output. The last time a storm made a dent in the output that severely? In 2005, from Hurricane Katrina.

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