Residents of the Louisiana coast were evacuating their homes on Friday and the National Guard was mobilized as Hurricane Delta approached an area of the southern United States already ravaged by a recent storm.
Located 255 miles from the coastal town of Cameron at 7 a.m., it was expected to weaken a bit before making landfall Friday night, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
With rains blown by winds of nearly 200 km / h, Delta will strike areas of the US coastline already badly damaged by Hurricane Laura just a few weeks ago.
The authorities have been calling for a few days the approximately 72,000 inhabitants of Lake Charles to evacuate, because this city of Louisiana, known for its oil refineries, is on the expected trajectory of the storm.
But operations were complicated by traffic jams and accidents on the highway through the city.
On Friday morning, the rain intensified over the city, the streets of which were completely empty.
Kristy Olmsted, 41, decided to stay at home because “it’s too stressful to evacuate,” she told AFP.
She caulked her windows and her door with sheets of plywood, to protect her house from the debris that still litter the floor after Laura’s visit at the end of August. This hurricane, rated level 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, was one of the most severe to hit the region.
Laura “was the worst, this one can’t be,” she explains, noting that her house had suffered only minor damage as Laura walked by.
Delta is rated at Level 3 on a 5-level scale, which means it can cause “devastating damage,” according to the NHC.
The NHC warned that a “life-threatening storm surge” was forecast along parts of the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, with swells of up to three meters expected.
Debris and missiles
Hurricane Delta earlier swept across southeastern Mexico, uprooting trees and blowing down power lines, but apparently without killing.
Heavy gusts, streets flooded by torrential rains: the famous resort town of Cancún, on the Yucatan Peninsula, was littered with torn trees, electric pylons on the ground. Many houses and buildings were damaged.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards called on residents to be extremely careful, as 2,400 members of the National Guard were mobilized to help the population.
Laura “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.
Hurricane Delta will hit “the part of our state that is least prepared to take it,” Edwards warned Thursday evening.
Lake Charles struggles to recover from Laura’s damage. Torn planks of wood, rubbish, uprooted trees still litter the streets and many homes are covered with tarpaulins.
Shannon Fuselier, 56, who helps a friend protect her home, is especially afraid of “pieces of metal, window frames from other houses, nails, signs from businesses,” she told AFP.
The governor warned that Delta could sweep up this old debris and turn it into missiles.
Delta is the 26th named storm in an unusually turbulent 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 are becoming more powerful, according to scientists who predict an increase in the proportion of category 4 and 5 cyclones.