MORGAN CITY, La. – Louisiana residents confronting the menace of a new hurricane weeks after one battered parts of the state got stark warnings Thursday to brace for winds that could turn still-uncollected debris into dangerous missiles and again knock out power to thousands.
Forecasts showed Delta had strengthened back into a Category 3 hurricane as it bore down on the state carrying winds of up to 120 mph (195 kph) and the potential to deliver a storm surge of up to 11 feet (3.4 meters) when it arrives on Friday evening or Friday night.
The projected path included the southwest area of Louisiana where Category 4 Hurricane Laura made landfall less than two months ago. Laura has been blamed for more than 30 deaths.
The mayor of Lakes Charles, where thousands of residents remain without shelter following the earlier hurricane, told residents that even if their homes survived Laura, they shouldn’t assume that would be the case with Delta.
“This is not a bad dream. It’s not a test run. These are the cards that we have been dealt,” Nic Hunter said in a Facebook video. He added, “I know that we’ve been through a lot, and I know that we’re tired. But we have a job to do right now, and that job is to keep ourselves safe.”
Residents in coastal towns appeared to be taking the latest threat seriously. Boarded windows and largely empty streets made New Iberia in south-central Louisiana look like a ghost town Thursday evening. The few signs of life included cars lined up at a drive-thru daquiri shop and people grabbing food at take-out restaurants.
“The last two storms, we didn’t even board up, but this one’s supposed to be worse,” Charles Fuller said as he covered the windows of the fried chicken restaurant he manages.
At least five southwest Louisiana parishes that were hit hard by Laura in August were under mandatory evacuations as of midday Thursday. Parish and local governments all along the coast issued a patchwork of mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, most focused on low-lying areas subject to flooding or on residents with special medical needs who might suffer in prolonged power outages.