BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Gov. John Bel Edwards warned Wednesday that Hurricane Delta is expected to bring significant impacts well into central Louisiana after it makes landfall Friday as what is expected to be a major hurricane of at least a Category 3 in strength.
“We’re not just speaking to people in coastal areas of our state,” Edwards said during an afternoon briefing. “In fact, we don’t expect the hurricane to become a tropical storm until just about the time it exits Northeast Louisiana.”
Meteorologist-in-Charge Benjamin Schott with the National Weather Service in New Orleans said there is still some uncertainty about the exact track and intensity of the storm, but those factors are expected to become more clear as Delta moves off of Mexico and into the warm waters of the Gulf.
In the meantime, Schott said the entire Louisiana coastline needs to prepare.
“You are at risk, and you don’t have to be in the cone to see impacts,” said Schott, adding that tropical-storm-force winds could be seen more than 100 miles from the center of the storm. “So even if the storm makes landfall somewhere in the center of our coastline, it’s possible both Lake Charles and New Orleans could see tropical-storm-force winds.”
“If you’re on the eastern side of this system…you still need to make sure you’re paying attention,” Schott said, “because the storm is expected to make a northeast shift at some point.”
Edwards, Schott, and state emergency preparedness officials are urging residents to be ready and in place to ride out the storm by sunset Thursday.
Earlier Wednesday, Edwards requested a pre-landfall federal declaration of emergency in a letter to President Donald J. Trump.
“Hurricane Delta is a dangerous storm that will bring strong winds, heavy rain, life-threatening storm surge and flooding to coastal Louisiana, and I am hopeful President Trump will quickly approve my request for a federal emergency declaration,” Gov. Edwards said. “Already, we are coordinating with our federal partners to respond, as we have been since the start of the COVID pandemic in March and through several tropical events, including the devastation of Hurricane Laura in Southwest Louisiana. All Louisianans should use today to prepare for Hurricane Delta, heeding the direction of their local leaders when it comes to evacuations.”
- Click here to read the Governor’s letter to the President.
Nothing in the governor’s COVID-19 emergency orders will keep contractors, utility workers, and the like from coming to the state, Edwards said on Wednesday, noting that rumors about such restrictions circulated after Hurricane Laura. In fact, more than 7,500 utility crews are staged and ready for the storm and another several thousand are on standby.
Meanwhile, Edwards says more than 6,000 Hurricane Laura evacuees remain in Louisiana hotels and another 2,000 are still in Texas. Efforts to move those evacuees have been placed on hold as Delta approaches.
The governor said FEMA has provided an assessment of the damage from Hurricane Laura, which tallies more than 58,000 homes with minor damage, 38,000 with moderate damage, 35,000 with major damage and 10,000 completely destroyed.
Edwards said it concerns him that five of the hardest-hit parishes in Southwest Louisiana from that storm are once again in the cone of Hurricane Delta.
While some prisoners that were evacuated from coastal correctional facilities ahead of Laura have yet to be moved back, Edwards said a few thousand more are expected to be moved elsewhere ahead of Delta.
There are already some mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders in non-protected areas along the coastline. Such orders are in effect in the following parishes: Acadia, Assumption, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Lafayette, Lafourche, St. Martin and St. Mary, the town of Grand Isle, Cameron, Iberia, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, and Vermillion. State offices will be closed statewide on Friday.
The governor said he does not anticipate any mandatory evacuations from protected areas.
The governor’s office is also offering updates about Delta, Hurricane Laura response and recovery and COVID-19 through its texting system. People may opt-in by texting ‘HurricaneDelta’ to 67283 and sign up for phone calls by going to Smart911.