‘Despondent’: Battered Louisiana city gets more rain from Nicholas; 100,000 without power in Texas
More than 100,000 Texas homes and businesses remained without power for a second day Wednesday as the remnants of Hurricane Nicholas slid across the Gulf Coast from the Lone Star State into Louisiana, drenching a region still staggering from Hurricane Ida’s wrath less than three weeks ago.
Nicholas, downgraded to a tropical depression with sustained winds of 30 mph, was centered about 30 miles northeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, early Wednesday. The storm was inching east-northeast at 5 mph.
“Much of South & Central Louisiana are under flood watch today as #Nicholas moves through the state,” Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted Wednesday. “Stay aware of conditions in your local area.”
Earlier, Edwards warned the state’s residents to “take this storm seriously and put yourself in a position to weather it safely.”
Almost 80,000 utility customers remained without power in the state, where the lights went out for more than 1 million homes and businesses during Ida’s peak fury.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said city crews had scoured the drainage system to keep it free from debris that might cause clogs and flooding. Hurricane Laura struck the city a little more than a year ago. Then came Hurricane Delta, then a January freeze that shattered pipes across the city of nearly 80,000 residents just 60 miles east of Beaumont, Texas. A rainstorm in May swamped houses and businesses yet again.
“With what people have gone through over the last 16 months here in Lake Charles, they are very, understandably despondent, emotional,” Hunter said. “Any time we have even a hint of a weather event approaching, people get scared.”
In Pointe-aux-Chenes, 70 miles southwest of New Orleans, Ida tore the tin roof off Terry and Patti Dardar’s home, leaving them without power and water. Rains from Nicholas have now soaked the top floor of their home – but it also provided badly needed water their family collected in jugs. They poured the water into a large plastic container through a strainer, and a pump powered by a generator brought the water inside.
“We ain’t got no other place,” Patti Dardar said. “This is our home.”
The National Weather Center warned that Nicholas, which already dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of Texas and several inches on areas of Louisiana, was expected to generate an additional 3 to 6 inches across the central Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle through Friday, with isolated totals of 10 more inches possible in some areas.
“Life-threatening flash flooding impacts, especially in urban areas, are possible across these regions,” said Alex Lamers, a National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist.
Nicholas hits Texas coast, but weakens in strength: ‘Life-threatening’ flash flooding likely across the South
Tornado warnings were issued in parts of southern Louisiana early Wednesday. The storm was forecast to gradually dissipate over central Louisiana on Thursday.
Hurricane Nicholas made landfall early Tuesday along the Matagorda Peninsula with torrential rains and storm surge. The cleanup was in full swing in Texas, where more than 14 inches of rain fell on parts of the Galveston area. Houston was hit with 6 inches, and the city set up cooling and phone charging centers in areas where power outages dragged on.
Earlier, first responders joined with members of the National Guard in rescuing people from flooded homes.
“Texas has deployed swift-water boats, helicopters and high profile vehicles to help local authorities with rescue efforts arising from flooding and high winds,” Gov. Greg Abbot said Tuesday. “Emergency shelters have been set up for residents who might be displaced.”
Contributing: The Associated Press