Delta’s remnants raise inland flood, storm risks as Louisiana residents dig out again

Weather

LAKE CHARLES, La. (NewsNation Now)— Rain from post-tropical cyclone Delta is saturating states across the Deep South, Tennessee Valley and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

The Weather Prediction Center said in a 4 a.m. advisory that the once-major hurricane is expected to drop 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain on parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. Flash, urban and small stream flooding is forecast for those states, with the Calcasieu and Vermillion river basins in Louisiana in danger of moderate to major river flooding in the coming week.

Storm QPF
The National Weather Service 4 a.m. CDT update.

The system is located early Sunday roughly 65 miles east-northeast of Tupelo, Mississippi, and about 120 miles south-southwest of Nashville, Tennessee.

Maximum sustained winds are around 30 mph and expected to weaken over the next several hours. Delta is forecast to dissipate over central Appalachian states by Sunday night.

Forecasters say a few brief tornadoes are possible in the Carolinas on Sunday.

cone graphic
The National Weather Service 4 a.m. CDT update.

Delta made landfall Friday evening near the coastal town of Creole with top winds of 100 mph. It moved over Lake Charles, a city where Hurricane Laura damaged nearly every home and building in late August.

No deaths had been reported by Saturday evening, but a hurricane’s wake can be treacherous. Seven of the 32 deaths attributed to Laura came the day that hurricane struck. Many others were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, and 10,000 utility workers were dispatched Saturday to get power restored to thousands of customers.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter estimated that hundreds of already battered homes took on water.

“Add Laura and Delta together and it’s just absolutely unprecedented and catastrophic,” Hunter said. “We are very concerned that with everything going in the country right now that this incident may not be on the radar nationally like it should be.”

While Delta was a weaker storm than Category 4 Laura, it inflicted most of its damage with rain instead of wind. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said it dumped more than 15 inches of rain on Lake Charles over two days and more than 10 inches on Baton Rouge.

The floodwaters surged up the Wesley family’s front yard, and they were terrified it would pour inside but it stopped short of the door. It carried with it bags of trash and muck, swept up from their neighbors’ piles of debris from the prior storm.

“The water was something else last night,” Milton Wesley said. “We’ve never seen it flood so bad out here, to the point I could have swam out here last night, that’s just how deep it was.”

On Saturday, they joined other southern Louisiana residents starting the routine yet again: dodging overturned cars on the roads, chain-sawing fallen trees, trudging through knee-deep water to flooded homes with ruined floors and no power, pledging to rebuild.

Edwards said 3,000 Louisiana National Guard soldiers were mobilized to clear roads and distribute meals and tarps.

Delta rapidly weakened once it moved onto land and slowed to a tropical depression Saturday. Forecasters warned that heavy rain, storm surge and flash floods continued to pose dangers from parts of Texas to Mississippi. Forecasters said remnants could spawn tornadoes in Tennessee Valley into Sunday, and flash floods could hit the southern Appalachians.

Delta, the 25th named storm of an unprecedented Atlantic hurricane season, was the 10th to hit the mainland U.S. this year, breaking a record set in 1916, Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach said.

The governor said Delta disrupted state efforts to set up temporary housing in southwest Louisiana to bring back Laura evacuees scattered across hotels. More than 9,400 people were being sheltered by the state Saturday, but only 935 were Delta evacuees, Edwards said. The others were still displaced by Laura.

Many people who had started repairing their homes from Laura saw the work undone overnight and the materials they bought “just scattered about because of the wind,” he said. “Again, it’s going to set us back, but it’s not going to dictate our future.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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