More than a half-million were without electricity Saturday after Hurricane Delta slammed Southwest Louisiana — an area that had been trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Laura just over a month ago.
In two press conferences Saturday, Gov. John Bel Edwards gave updates on the state’s recovery efforts, which he said are focused on the hardest hit parishes of Cameron, Calcasieu, Jefferson Davis, Allen, Vermillion, and Acadia.
Delta made landfall as a Category 2 at 6 p.m. Friday near Creole, Louisiana, only about 12 miles east of where Laura made landfall as a Category 4 on Aug. 27.
“Even though it wasn’t as powerful as Hurricane Laura, it was much bigger,” Edwards said, adding that it caused “significant amounts of damage.”
After the governor toured the aftermath by airplane, he said it appeared Delta brought less wind damage but more water than Hurricane Laura. Underscoring the wide breadth of the storm, he said Delta brought 15 inches of rain to Lake Charles and even 10 inches of rain to Baton Rouge over 48 hours.
“There will be damage in Southwest Louisiana that will be very difficult to differentiate between what was caused by Hurricane Laura and what was caused by Hurricane Delta,” the governor said.
Edwards said 9441 residents were in shelters as of Saturday, of which 935 were evacuated due to Delta. There were still 8,394 people in hotels from Hurricane Laura.
More than 3,000 Louisiana National Guard soldiers are activated in and around the destruction areas to provide food and water and conduct search-and-rescue operations. The soldiers deployed with 1.5 million meals and 1.5 million bottles of water, and they rescued about 10 people in Rapides Parish. Other search-and-rescue teams rescued or relocated about 80 people from areas across the state, Edwards said.
“Thank God as of now we are not reporting any fatalities as of Hurricane Delta,” the governor said.
Because of Delta’s massive size, it caused more utility outages than Laura caused. As of noon Saturday, there were 688,000 electricity outages and 165 weather-related road closures. By 4 p.m., utility crews had restored that number down to 560,000.
Edwards said power restoration is expected to go much faster than it did following Laura because fewer transmission towers were damaged by Delta.
The governor urged residents to be careful when using generators by keeping them at least 20 feet away from any living space. He also asked that people not go sight-seeing, but those who must travel are urged to visit 511LA.org for real-time updates on road closures.