LAKE CHARLES, La. — Hurricane Delta crashed onshore Friday in southwestern Louisiana as a Category 2 storm, compounding misery along a path of destruction left by Hurricane Laura only six weeks earlier.
The center of the hurricane made landfall about 6 p.m. near the town of Creole with top winds of 100 mph (155 kph), pushing a storm surge that could reach up to 11 feet (3.4 meters), the National Hurricane Center said.
As the 10th named storm to strike the continental U.S. this year, Delta’s arrival snapped a century-old record.
People in south Louisiana steeled themselves as Delta delivered driving rain, powerful winds and rising water to a part of the state still recovering from a deadly catastrophic hurricane six weeks ago. Power outages in Louisiana and neighboring Texas soared past 203,000 homes and businesses Friday shortly after the storm came ashore, according to the tracking website PowerOutage.us.
The Hurricane Center said wind gusts in Lake Arthur, Louisiana, reached 96 mph as Delta made landfall. Storm surge reached 8 feet east of Cameron, a sparely populated coastal community devastated by 2005’s Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike in 2008.
In the city of Lake Charles, about 30 miles inland from where Delta made landfall, rain pelted the tarp-covered roofs of buildings that Hurricane Laura battered when it barreled through in late August and killed at least 27 people in the state.
“It’s devastating and it’s emotional for the citizenry,” Mayor Nic Hunter said as he prepared to ride out the storm in downtown Lake Charles.
Winds picked up Friday evening in inland areas such as Lafayette, where occasionally strong gusts buffeted trees and sheets of rain were falling. Many parishes and towns implemented curfews Friday until Saturday morning to encourage people to stay off the roads during the worst of the storm.
Dawn Trosclair checked into a hotel Friday, worried about trees falling on her home in Lafayette.
“No other storm really threatened us,” Trosclair said as she watched the gusting winds. “Laura was far enough away and the winds were going to be mild enough here where we didn’t leave.”
Laura damaged about 95% of the homes and buildings in Lake Charles, while up to 8,000 residents — 10% of the population — remain displaced, the mayor said. Piles of moldy mattresses, sawed-up trees and other leftover debris lined the city’s largely vacant streets Friday, arousing concern they could cause more damage and deaths when the new storm strikes.
“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.
Delta was the 25th named storm of an unprecedented Atlantic hurricane season and became the first Greek-alphabet-named hurricane to hit the continental U.S. As the 10th named storm to hit the continental U.S. this year, it surpassed a record set in 1916, according to Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach.
As the fourth hurricane or tropical storm to hit Louisiana in a year, Delta also tied a 2002 record, Klotzbach said.