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Hurricane Delta Expected To Hit Louisiana 6 Weeks After Laura

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The eye of Hurricane Delta has come ashore near Creole, La., with 105-mile-per-hour winds. Much of this area still has extensive damage from Hurricane Laura in late August. Earlier, we spoke with NPR's John Burnett from the city of Lafayette as the storm approached. He described the scene for us.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Well, I'm looking out from the front porch of this rambling, 80-year-old house here in central Louisiana - central Lafayette. We're next to the campus of the University of Louisiana. And there are all these stately, old live oak trees, some of them 120 years old. They've been through lots of tropical storms. And here's what Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said earlier today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN BEL EDWARDS: The good news is that Delta is moving relatively quickly at about 13 mph with forward speed. And as I mentioned before, the hurricane hunters are seeing a modest amount of weakening, and the maximum winds are actually down.

BURNETT: And so Delta has dropped from a Category 3 to a Cat 2, down to 110 mph sustained winds, which is good news. This is the sixth named storm to approach - or strike Louisiana this season, and so folks are exhausted down here.

CORNISH: I'm sure they are in the city of Lake Charles because they suffered under Hurricane Laura. What's going on there?

BURNETT: Exactly. Well, we know that 6,300 people from that city are still being sheltered from Hurricane Laura. Officials say more than 90% of the buildings in town sustained some kind of damage, from leaky roofs to blown-out walls. And lots of houses are still covered with blue tarps, which are about to get ripped off. And those heavy rains that are coming will soak living rooms all over again. I was driving through Lake Charles last night, and you can see these piles of debris on all the curbs, tree limbs and twisted construction material. And locals are worried that, at the least, all that rubbish is going to get scattered across the city again. At the worst, it could become airborne and get very dangerous.

But it's the people, Audie, that are so heartbreaking. Some of them can't believe they're getting ready to go through another night of hell. Here's Amber Dowden, a 28-year-old house cleaner. Her extended family was hunkering down in her rented house, which already has broken windows and holes in the roof. And I asked her how she's doing.

AMBER DOWDEN: Pretty nervous, scared, you know? But all we can do is pray about it. It's a struggle for us all. You know, it's not easy.

CORNISH: Amber Dowden there talking about this storm. But this is actually the 10th tropical storm to make landfall on U.S. mainland this season - a record. How are people reacting to that?

BURNETT: Well, the first thing you have to say is that people in this region have grown up with hurricanes. They're incredibly resilient and resourceful. You know, if it's a Category 1 or 2, a lot of people ride it out. If it's a Cat 3, 4 or 5, they board up their windows, collect their pets and drive to Alexandria or Houston until it passes. But nobody I've spoken to has seen anything like this hurricane season. Earlier today, I met with Ed Roy, a veteran weatherman in Lafayette.

ED ROY: So in my 40 years of being in the meteorological profession, no, I have never seen a season with this many storms, named storms. So 2020 is a standout year.

BURNETT: And remember; there are almost two months left in the 2020 hurricane season.

CORNISH: That's NPR's John Burnett.

John, stay safe.

BURNETT: Thanks, Audie.

(SOUNDBITE OF JON HOPKINS' "LOST IN THOUGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.