Miami, Oct 9 (efe-epa).- Hurricane Delta reached Louisiana late Friday as a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155km/h (100mph), the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The storm made landfall near the town of Creole around 6.00 pm (23.00 GMT), according to the Miami-based NHC, which cited a reading from a water-level gauge at Freshwater Canal Locks showing a storm surge of more than 2.44m (8ft) above ground level.
“Prepare for the worst. Pray for the best,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged state residents as Delta was approaching the coast.
The storm was expected to affect some of the same areas that were battered in August by Laura, a Category 4 storm packing winds of 240km/h (150mph) that killed 28 people, destroyed 10,000 homes and left 35,000 others with major damage.
“Those structures have not yet been repaired,” Edwards said Thursday. “The electrical infrastructure there is in the process of being repaired. And we’ve got people who are very tired. We’re still sheltering over 6,000 people from southwest Louisiana in 12 hotels, primarily in New Orleans.”
Delta was downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm during the course of the day on Friday, but the governor cautioned people to remain alert.
“The fact that it’s weakening should not cause anyone to lose focus, or to lose vigilance,” Edwards said. “Because this is still a very strong problem. It is going to bring significant impacts to the state of Louisiana.”
Authorities made arrangements with 40 hotels to lodge people living in mandatory evacuations zones, he said.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, storm shelters have been forced to sharply reduce their intake. The “mega-shelter” in Alexandria, which can accommodate thousands of people under ordinary circumstances, has had to limit its capacity to 800.
Louisiana has nearly 171,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and is experiencing an increase in hospitalizations.
Delta is the fourth storm to strike Louisiana in 2020, following Tropical Storm Marco, Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Cristobal.
It is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which continues through Nov. 30, and the record-setting 10th tropical system to affect the US this year.
The NHC said Delta was expected to drop as much as 254mm (10in) of rain in southwestern and central Louisiana, with isolated totals of 381mm (15in).
Storm surge as high as 3.33m (11ft) is possible and the storm has the potential to spawn tornadoes in Louisiana and Mississippi, according to the NHC. EFE lce-ar/dr