This hurricane season that has exhausted the alphabet of named storms has turned to the Greek Alphabet for yet more storms during these peak months. Hurricane Delta made landfall as a Category 2 storm near Creole, Louisiana, a region already exhausted by this brutal season. The size and power of the storm produced a significant storm surge (up to 11 feet in parts of Louisiana), heavy rain, and damaging winds. The area of landfall is nearly identical to the area impacted by Hurricane Laura, just 7 weeks ago, with many of those communities still struggling to recover. While Delta was both larger and dropped more rain than Laura, Laura was much more powerful and caused more damage with stronger winds.
And then the storm-weary region braced for Hurricane Zeta that approached the coast as a Category 2 and made landfall near Cocodrie, La., about 65 miles south-southwest of New Orleans. Rapidly moving Zeta is affecting 11 states with high winds and heavy rains. Hundreds of thousands are without power in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and northern Georgia. The speed of the storm diminishes the degree of flooding but the danger from high winds remains even as the storm moves inland.
Southwest Louisiana suffered the most damage from Delta. Lake Charles, which was so heavily impacted by Laura, received more than 15 inches of rain from Delta, and many roads throughout southwestern Louisiana remain underwater and impassable – complicating damage assessment and response efforts. There were mandatory and voluntary evacuations across the Louisiana coast with thousands now in shelters and hundreds of thousands without power. It is the 7th storm of the season in the Gulf. The storm’s impact reached much of Louisiana, Eastern Texas, Western Mississippi, Southern Arkansas and Western Tennessee. Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, and Louisiana’s federal emergency declaration request was approved. And the season is far from over as extreme weather increasingly adds new burdens to vulnerable communities in the path of these storms.
In the health sector, COVID-19 testing sites remain closed until damage assessments have been completed; it is currently unclear when testing sites will come back online. Thirty health facilities reported that they have either evacuated or are sheltering in place and a total of 54 health facilities are operating on generator power.
Given the uncertainty of the forecast and recent experience with last minute shifts in impact area, the Emergency team reached out to 89 partners in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas in advance of Delta. Additionally, the team is coordinating with VOAD (regional and state) and has reached out to our national VOAD partners. Conversations with partners have revealed concerns as many communities impacted by Laura are still occupied with recovery efforts and as recurrent/overlapping emergencies have placed significant strain on regional response resources.
The Emergency team has received and is filling requests of relief supplies from partners in Mississippi, while also working with Nestlé Waters of North America to deliver up to 10 truckloads of bottled water, and our Distribution Center continues to build possible shipments for partners in the region affected by the series of storms. The team is providing support for immediate and longer term needs as requests for help continue to come in. It typically takes partners a few days to assess damage and make requests. The ER team is ready to help as more needs are identified and as Hurricane Zeta adds more misery to many vulnerable communities.
Read more about our response preparation for Hurricane Delta.