Hurricane Delta turns deadly as ravaged Louisiana cleans up aftermath

Noble Horvath

Hurricane Delta has turned deadly, as Louisiana officials have announced the first death in the state from the storm. Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday an 86-year-old man from St. Martin Parish died in a fire that started after he refueled a power generator in a shed. The governor said […]

Hurricane Delta has turned deadly, as Louisiana officials have announced the first death in the state from the storm.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday an 86-year-old man from St. Martin Parish died in a fire that started after he refueled a power generator in a shed. The governor said it didn’t appear that the man had let the generator cool down before refueling it.

Earlier Sunday, officials in Florida said a 19-year-old tourist from Illinois drowned after being caught in a rip current unleashed by the remnants of Delta in the Gulf Coast.

Delta made landfall Friday evening in southwest Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane and then began weakening quickly over land. It came weeks after Hurricane Laura battered the same region.

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Laura claimed 32 lives, though only seven of the deaths came the day that the hurricane struck. Many others were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.

Back-to-back hurricanes in the space of six weeks left this corner of Louisiana blanketed Sunday with tarpaulins, mangled metal and downed power lines — but not necessarily despair.

Utility crews fanned out across the battered southwestern part of the state to restore electricity in the wake of Delta, and residents began returning home along roads lined with debris and houses missing roofs. Some were grateful that the damage was not as bad as it could have been.

Roughly 350,000 customers in Louisiana remained without power two days after Delta blew ashore near the town of Creole with winds of 100 mph, slamming a part of the state still recovering from Hurricane Laura’s 150 mph onslaught on Aug. 27.

The remnants of Delta, meanwhile, dumped heavy rain on parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

The storm was also blamed for washing out a railroad track and causing the derailment of a freight train in the Atlanta area that sparked a small fire and briefly forced some residents from their homes. Two crew members were taken to a hospital for observation and later released.

After blowing ashore, Delta moved over Lake Charles, a city where Laura damaged nearly every home and building. More than 8,000 Louisiana residents who evacuated because of Laura were still in shelters as of Sunday, Edwards said. Roughly 850 people were in shelters because of Delta.

Before Friday’s storm, the streets of Lake Charles were already lined with mountains of debris from the previous hurricane — soggy insulation, moldy mattresses, tree limbs, twisted metal siding, ruined family treasures. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter estimated hundreds of already damaged homes took on water from Delta, which dumped more than 15 inches of rain on the city over two days.

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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.

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