Louisiana residents confronting the menace of a new hurricane weeks after one battered their communities got stark warnings Thursday to brace for winds that could turn debris into missiles and to use the remaining hours before the storm strikes to take emergency precautions despite their weariness.
Forecasts showed Delta had strengthened back into a Category 3 hurricane as it bore down on the state carrying winds of up to 185 km/h and the potential to deliver a storm surge of up to 3.4 metres when it arrives on Friday evening.
The projected path included the southwest area of Louisiana where Category 4 Hurricane Laura made landfall less than two months ago.
"This season has been relentless," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said, dusting off his now common refrain of 2020: "Prepare for the worst. Pray for the best."
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."
Thousands still out of their homes
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 to the east, making landfall in Alabama on Sept. 16.
Edwards said President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a federal emergency declaration in advance for the state. The Democratic governor said he doesn't expect widespread mandatory evacuations.
But Edwards said Wednesday that Delta is moving fast, so hurricane force winds could reach well inland, and expected heavy rains could cause flooding.
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