Hurricane Delta hit the coasts of Louisiana, a state already severely affected by bad weather for several months on Friday evening, becoming the 10th storm of the year to make landfall in the United States, a record.
Delta made landfall near the coastal town of Cameron at around 6:00 p.m. local time, Category 2 on a 5-scale scale, with winds of up to 155 km / h according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The hurricane became the 10th named storm to strike the United States this year, a figure never before seen. Six of these affected, to varying degrees, Louisiana.
Even though its winds are less strong than the feared weather – the cold waters near the Louisiana coast have made it lose energy – Delta is crashing into an area of the American coast already badly damaged by Hurricane Laura in the end of August.
Authorities have been calling for several days the some 75,000 residents of Lake Charles to evacuate because this city, known for its oil refineries, is on the path of the storm, less than 100 kilometers from Cameron.
Torn planks of wood, rubbish and uprooted trees still litter its streets, while many homes are covered with blue tarpaulins, the most visible signs of the stigma left by the rain and strong winds of previous storms.
Within hours of Delta’s arrival, Arthur Durham, a 56-year-old restaurateur, had finished applying plywood to his house and was still confident.
“I stayed for the previous one. I’m pretty well equipped. I have a back-up generator, some tools … I’m pretty self-sufficient, “the man from coastal Texas told AFP. ” I am used to it. “
Early Friday afternoon, the rain and wind intensified over Lake Charles, the streets of which were completely empty, giving the impression of a ghost town.
The signs to reopen stores, which is unclear whether they were placed after the quarantine linked to the COVID-19 pandemic or after Laura, sounded sadly wrong.
Most of the inhabitants had already evacuated, by their own means or in buses made available to them by the authorities, or were caulked in their homes.
Kristy Olmsted, 41, is part of the second group. “It’s too stressful to evacuate,” she told AFP.
Laura “was the worst, this one can’t be,” she adds, installing plywood sheets on her windows and door as well.
More than Delta himself, 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 blown 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 city officials in Lake Charles, 95% of homes were affected to varying degrees by the hurricane, one of the most violent to hit the region, with winds even stronger than those in Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans in 2005.
Along with Delta, the NHC warned that a “potentially fatal storm surge” was forecast along parts of the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, from Texas to Mississippi, with an expected swell of up to three meters. Ten million people are affected by this warning.
John Bel Edwards called on residents to be extremely careful, as nearly 2,500 members of the National Guard were mobilized to come to the aid of the population.
Delta “will make landfall 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 across southeastern Mexico earlier in the week, uprooting trees and blowing down power lines in the Yucatan Peninsula, but apparently without causing any deaths.
The storm is the 25th named in an unusually choppy Atlantic hurricane season in which several records have been broken. Due to the exhaustion of the list of expected Latin names, meteorologists began to identify them with the Greek alphabet.
As the surface of the oceans warms, hurricanes become more powerful, according to scientists who predict an increase in the proportion of category 4 and 5 cyclones, the most destructive.