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Evacuations Not Likely Inside Levee System Ahead Of Hurricane Delta, Officials Say

Mayor LaToya Cantrell and administration officials address the media Tuesday afternoon as Hurricane Delta gathers strength in the Caribbean.
Travis Lux
Mayor LaToya Cantrell and administration officials address the media Tuesday afternoon as Hurricane Delta gathers strength in the Caribbean.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell says she does not plan to order an evacuation for residents inside the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System ahead of Hurricane Delta given the current track and intensity of Hurricane Delta.

Delta is currently approaching Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 4 hurricane. It’s expected to remain a major hurricane as it moves across the Gulf of Mexico before weakening slightly just before landfall, likely along the Louisiana coast.

New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Colin Arnold said expected impacts from the storm are “manageable in a shelter-in-place scenario.”

“But we’re watching this very closely and if the intensity changes or anything changes that we need you to know about, and impacts increase, we may have to reevaluate,” he said. “We will let you know, first thing.”

Arnold said evacuation orders are made in collaboration with nearby parishes and state officials, and said officials would need at least 40 hours to prepare for one. That means Wednesday morning is the cut-off point for officials to make that decision.

Right now, the primary impacts to the New Orleans region appear to be the potential for heavy rains, strong winds, and flooding outside the levee system, officials said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Beginning Thursday, the New Orleans area could get four to eight inches of rain over the span of several days.

The city has begun positioning high water vehicles, should they be necessary, and Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans Superintendent Bob Turner said the drainage utility had 98 out of 99 drainage pumps available. He expected that all 99 would be available by Friday.

Sandbags will be made available at 8 a.m. Wednesday, while supplies last, at the following New Orleans locations:

  • Mid City Library
  • Dryades YMCA
  • Arthur Monday Center
  • Milne Rec Center
  • St. Maria Goretti Church

Cantrell said the city was working to stand up an additional location in the Lower 9th Ward as well.
Arnold said the sand typically runs out after about 4 hours.

Parking will be allowed on neutral grounds beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Officials urged residents to get their preparations in order and to check on neighbors and loved ones ahead of the storm.

Tuesday 4 p.m.

Hurricane Delta is expected to remain a major hurricane as it approaches the Louisiana coast.
Credit National Hurricane Center
Hurricane Delta is expected to remain a major hurricane as it approaches the Louisiana coast.

Hurricane Delta is heading towards the Yucatán Peninsula as a Category 4 with sustained winds of 145 mph.

The storm is expected to make landfall Wednesday before turning northeast and heading through the Gulf of Mexico towards the Louisiana coast. It’s forecast to make landfall in southwest Louisiana, around Vermillion Bay, late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts that the storm could strengthen before reaching the Yucatan, then weaken slightly before re-strengthening over the Gulf.

Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are likely, especially along the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi.

The storm could dump up to 12 inches of rain on the central Gulf Coast, which could cause flash, urban and minor river flooding. Heavy rainfall will eventually spread into the Tennessee Valley and interior southeastern United States.

More than six-thousand  Louisianans who were displaced after Hurricane Laura hit the Lake Charles area in August are still sheltering in New Orleans.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging residents to plan for the worst.

Tuesady morning

Hurricane Delta has quickly strengthened into a Category 4 storm as it moves across the Caribbean and towards the southern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew over the eye of the storm this morning and reported wind speeds of nearly 130 miles per hour. The storm is moving westward at about 14 mph towards the southern tip of Mexico.

Hurricane Delta is expected to weaken before making landfall as a Category 2 in Louisiana early Saturday morning.

Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds are possible, especially along the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, beginning on Friday.

As recovery efforts continue in the west side of the state following the destructive path of Hurricane Laura, which struck Louisiana at the end of August, Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to prepare for the latest storm.

Credit NOAA

“It is common for many people to experience hurricane fatigue during a busy season, but we need everyone to take this threat seriously,” Edwards said in a press release.

Edwards will hold a press conference this afternoon.

Delta is expected to bring winds near 110 mph and an “extremely dangerous” storm surge of 6 to 9 feet when it makes landfall on the Yucatan peninsula tomorrow. The surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves, and rainfall amounts of up to 10 inches.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.
As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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