Louisiana Braces for Another Major Storm as Unprecedented Hurricane Season Hits Gulf Coast


For the sixth time in the Atlantic hurricane season, people in Louisiana are once more fleeing the state’s barrier islands and sailing boats to safe harbor while emergency officials consider ordering evacuations.

The storm being watched Wednesday was Hurricane Delta, the 25th named storm of the Atlantic’s unprecedented hurricane season. Forecasts placed most of the state within Delta’s path.

“This season has been relentless,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Prepare for the worst. Pray for the best.”

So far, Louisiana has seen both major strikes and near misses.

The southwest area of the state around Lake Charles, which forecasts show is on Delta’s current trajectory, is still recovering from Category 4 Hurricane Laura which made landfall on Aug. 27.

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Nearly six weeks later, some 5,600 people remain in New Orleans hotels because their homes are too damaged to occupy.

Trees, roofs and other debris left in Laura’s wake still sit by roadsides in the Lake Charles area waiting for pickup even as forecasters warned that Delta could be a larger than average storm.

New Orleans spent a few days last month bracing for Hurricane Sally before it skirted off to the east, making landfall in Alabama on Sept. 16.

Delta is predicted to strengthen back into a Category 3 storm after hitting the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday.

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast anticipated landfall in Louisiana on Friday, with the sparsely populated area between Cameron and Vermilion Bay the first place to get hit.

Plywood, batteries and rope were flying off the shelves at the Tiger Island hardware store in Morgan City, which would be close to the center of the storm’s path.

“The other ones didn’t bother me, but this one seems like we’re the target,” customer Terry Guarisco said as a store employee helped him load his truck with the plywood he planned to use to board up his home.

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In Sulphur, just across the Calcasieu River from Lake Charles, Ben Reynolds was deciding whether or not to leave because of Delta. He had to use a generator for power for a week after Hurricane Laura.

“It’s depressing,” Reynolds said.

By sundown Wednesday, Acy Cooper planned to have his three shrimp boats locked down and tucked into a southern Louisiana bayou for the third time this season.

“We’re not making any money,” Cooper said. “Every time one comes we end up losing a week or two.”

Lynn Nguyen, who works at the TLC Seafood Market in Abbeville, said each storm threat forces fisherman to spend days pulling hundreds of crab traps from the water or risk losing them.

“It’s been a rough year. The minute you get your traps out and get fishing, its time to pull them out again because something is brewing out there,” Nguyen said.

Elsewhere in Abbeville, Wednesday brought another round of boarding up and planning, Vermilion Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lynn Guillory said.

“I think that the stress is not just the stress of the storm this year, it’s everything — one thing after another. Somebody just told me, ‘You know, we’ve really had enough,’” Guillory said,

While New Orleans has been mostly spared by the weather, the city’s emergency officials were on alert.

“We’ve had five near misses. We need to watch this one very, very closely,” New Orleans Emergency Director Collin Arnold said.

Along with getting hit by Hurricane Laura and escaping Hurricane Sally, Louisiana saw heavy flooding on June 7 from Tropical Storm Cristobal. Tropical Storm Beta prompted tropical storm warnings in mid-September as it slowly crawled up the northeast Texas coast.

Tropical Storm Marco looked like it might deliver the first half of a hurricane double blow with Laura, but it nearly dissipated before hitting the state near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Aug. 24.

And there are nearly eight weeks of hurricane season left to go, although forecasters at the National Weather Service office in New Orleans noted in a discussion of this week’s forecast that outside of Delta, the skies above the Gulf of Mexico look calm.

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