Heavy rain continued to hit parts of the United States Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said on Saturday afternoon, as residents assessed the damage after Hurricane Delta made landfall off the coast of the state of Louisiana a day earlier.
The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical depression over western Mississippi, the NHC said in a briefing note on Saturday morning, with winds of 55 kilometres per hour (35 miles per hour).
The storm’s strength lessened further later in the day, but rainfall warnings remained in effect for parts of Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina and other southeast US states.
In Louisiana, where many residents had evacuated their homes on Friday as the storm approached, people emerged on Saturday to assess the damage.
Delta was the second major hurricane to hit the state’s southwest region in six weeks, after Hurricane Laura struck in August, leaving more than a dozen people dead and causing damage estimated at a cost of several billion dollars.
Here are the 10 AM CDT Key Messages for Tropical Depression #Delta. Heavy rainfall will lead to flash flooding across portions of the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys today and into the Southern Appalachians through Sunday. See https://t.co/SiZo8ohZMN for local hazards. pic.twitter.com/so8o0KNiUT
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) October 10, 2020
During a briefing in Baton Rouge on Saturday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said that while Delta “wasn’t quite as powerful as Hurricane Laura, it was much bigger”.
Officials were still assessing the damage, he said, and about 3,000 National Guard troops have been called up to distribute relief supplies, clear roads, maintain security and conduct search and rescue operations.
“We’re picking up the pieces, but we have quite a road ahead of us,” Nic Hunter, the mayor of Lake Charles, a city of 75,000 people in Louisiana’s southwest region, told CNN.
He said Delta’s passage so soon after Laura felt like “a double whammy”.
“It’s adding insult to injury,” he told the US news channel.
Local television station WAFB-9, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, reported about 300,000 people were without electricity on Saturday morning due to the storm.
The station said photos of crushed cars and damaged homes were widespread, as well.
Delta was packing 160km/h (100mph) winds when it made landfall on Friday evening, classifying it as a Category 2 storm.