Still reeling from Hurricane Laura six weeks ago, teams in Louisiana and Texas have begun damage assessments in the wake of Hurricane Delta, which came on shore at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9. in southeast Louisiana as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 75 mph.
The storm made landfall in Creole, La., about a dozen miles from where Hurricane Laura landed on Aug. 27 as a Category 4 storm.
Initial reports indicate flooding and power outages to hundreds of thousands of customers in an area that had to completely rebuild its electrical grid just weeks ago. Firms and agencies expect it will take a few days to get a more complete picture of the damage.
Several contractors were en route to Louisiana on Oct. 10 after evacuating to Texas to assess damages to their sites and projects, said David Helveston, president of the Pelican chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.
“People we’ve talked to said it’s just really kind of heartbreaking. All the tarps put on six weeks ago have all blown off,” he says.
Safeguarding construction sites by tieing down materials and securing cranes was a key focus for contractors in southeast Louisiana in advance of Delta, and contractors are now checking to see if those safeguards held up.
Those precautions included securing tarps and corralling debris at ABC’s training center complex in Westlake, where Hurricane Laura pulled off roofing and ripped away 15’ x 20’ roll-up doors. ABC received reports that Delta blew off blue tarps and additional roofing at the complex.
“This is the construction industry, so we’re very used to building and rebuilding,” says Erika Walter, ABC Pelican spokeswoman.
Repeated power outages
Entergy crews have begun assessing the storm’s impact to the region’s electrical grid, which just weeks ago sustained catastrophic damages after Hurricane Laura and had to be completely rebuilt. As of Saturday morning, Entergy had mobilized 11,200 workers to begin restoring power.
The utility said that based on historical restoration times, customers in the areas hardest hit by a Category 2 storm could be out of power for as long as 10 days, although about 90% of customers will be restored sooner.
Entergy Texas officials reported Saturday morning that the region’s transmission system remained “stable with minimal damage.”
Offshore, infrastructure assessments
Offshore oil and gas operators evacuated personnel from 274 of their production platforms, which account for nearly 43% of the manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
As of today, nearly 92% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was shut down, along with 62% of natural gas production, according to the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
“With the recovery from Laura, Sally and other storms, our members have been extremely focused on preparedness and securing those facilities that could potentially be affected. From Laura, there are several refineries in Lake Charles that are still shut in,” says Suzanne Lemieux, manager of operations, security and emergency response for the American Petroleum Institute.
Lemieux says operators will be inspecting facilities throughout the weekend and should have a better idea of damages by late Sunday or early in the week.
Elsewhere in the region, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also conducting damage assessments throughout the weekend and is beginning surveys of waterways today. Hurricane Laura had damaged some of the navigation locks the Corps operates between Lake Charles and Morgan City. Regional Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett said that so far, Delta’s impacts to Corps structures appear to be minimal.