Hurricane Delta hit the coasts of Louisiana early in the evening, a state that has been severely hit by bad weather for several months, making it the 10th storm of the year to hit the United States, a record.
Delta landed near the coastal town of Cameron around 18:00 local time (23:00 GMT), in Category 2 on a scale of 5, with winds of up to 155 km/h according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
The hurricane became the 10th storm with a name to hit the United States this year, a figure that has never been reached. Six of them affected Louisiana to varying degrees.
Even though its winds are less strong than one time feared — the cold waters near Louisiana‘s coastline caused it to lose energy — Delta landed on an area of the U.S. coastline that was already severely damaged by Hurricane Laura at the end of August.
The authorities have been calling for some 75,000 inhabitants of Lake Charles to evacuate since this city, known for its oil refineries, is on the path of the storm, less than 100 kilometres from Cameron.
Ripped wooden planks, rubbish and uprooted trees still litter its streets while many homes are covered with blue tarpaulins, the most visible signs of the stigmas left by the rain and the strong winds of previous storms.
A few hours before Delta arrived, Arthur Durham, a 56-year-old restaurateur, finished applying plywood to his house and was still confident.
“I stayed for the previous one. I’m pretty well equipped. I have a backup generator, tools… I‘m quite self-sufficient,” explains this man from Texas coastal regions to AFP. “I’m used to it.”
Early Friday afternoon, rain and wind intensified on Lake Charles, whose streets were completely empty, giving a ghost city impression.
The reopening signs of the stores, which it is not clear whether they were placed after the quarantine related to the Covid-19 pandemic or after Laura, sounded sadly wrong.
Most of the inhabitants had already evacuated, either by their own means or on buses made available by the authorities, or were caulked at home.
Kristy Olmsted, 41, is part of the second group. “It‘s too stressful to evacuate,” she told AFP.
Laura “was the worst, it can’t be,” she adds, installing plywood plates on her windows and door.
More than Delta itself, she feared the nails, bolts and other debris that still occupy the streets.
Potential “missiles” according to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards, when they are thrown into the air by the winds.
About 8,000 people who left the area because of Laura six weeks ago have still not returned, their homes being too badly damaged.
According to municipal officials in Lake Charles, 95% of homes were affected to varying degrees by this hurricane, one of the most violent hurricane ever hit the area, with winds even stronger than those in Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans in 2005.
With Delta, the NHC warned that a “life-threatening storm surge” was planned along parts of the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from Texas to Mississippi, with a projected swell of up to three metres. Ten million people are affected by this warning.
John Bel Edwards called on the residents to be cautious, while nearly 2,500 members of the National Guard were mobilized to help the population.
Delta “will hit the ground today and Louisiana is already feeling its effects,” he warned on Twitter Friday morning. “Be smart and stay safe today,” he added.
The hurricane swept southeastern Mexico earlier this week, where it uprooted trees and felled power lines in the Yucatan Peninsula but apparently did not cause death.
The storm is the 25th with a name in an unusually turbulent Atlantic hurricane season, during which several records were broken. Because of the exhaustion of the list of planned Latin names, meteorologists began to identify them with the Greek alphabet.
With the warming of the ocean surface, hurricanes become more powerful, according to scientists who predict an increase in the proportion of category 4 and 5 cyclones, the mostdestructive.
By CCeiT (AFP)