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Louisiana struggles to recover after Laura, Delta hurricane landfalls

By Lauren Fox, Accuweather.com and UPI

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- After being lashed by Laura and Delta within the span of just a few weeks, Lake Charles, La., is struggling to recover from the damage, and with national attention focusing elsewhere, some residents and officials are worried they will not receive the aid they require to rebuild.

Delta made landfall on Friday near Creole, just 13 miles from where Laura made landfall only 43 days prior. As it struck the coast with 100 mph winds, Delta left a path of destruction in the form of flooded streets and damaged buildings and homes.

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There have only been two deaths in the state caused by Delta compared with 32 total deaths reported due to Laura.

The Louisiana Department of Health on Sunday said a 70-year-old woman in Iberia Parish died of a fire likely caused by a gas leak due to damage from Hurricane Delta.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced earlier that an 86-year-old man from St. Martin Parish died in a fire that sparked after he refueled a generated, becoming the first Delta-storm related fatality.

A 19-year-old also died in Florida due to the storm, officials said.

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The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said Sunday that Dakota Pierce, a tourist from Illinois, drowned a day prior after being caught in a rip current in the Gulf of Mexico. The sheriff's office said in a statement that "multiple people" were pulled from the gulf by lifeguards despite it being closed to swimming "due to dangerous conditions created by the outer bands of Hurricane Delta."

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Early Sunday, a CSX train derailed in Gwinnett County, Ga., after heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Delta.

The train's engineer and conductor were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, according to a news release by Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services, which responded to the incident at 1:43 a.m. Crews found 38 rail cars derailed and several engulfed in flames shortly after arrival.

Delta, which held an AccuWeather RealImpact score of 2, was the 10th storm to make landfall in the United States this hurricane season, breaking the record previously set in 1916. It was also the first hurricane named after the Greek alphabet to make landfall in the United States. The 2020 season has become unprecedented in many aspects, and Lake Charles is now left to rebuild from the aftermath of back-to-back landfalls.

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On Saturday, 9,400 people were being sheltered by the state. According to Edwards, however, only 935 of those people evacuated from Delta, and the rest were still evacuated from Laura.

The Mutual Aid Response Network Imagine, a group of Louisiana residents led by Water Works, is providing more unique necessities to those affected, including chainsaws, box fans, tools, food, clothing, mobility devices, laundry services, mini-fridges to be used for breastmilk and medicine, activities for children, slow cookers, grills and more, while prioritizing the funding, leadership, and safety of Black, Indigenous and people of color. So far they have raised more than $71,000 of their $250,000 goal.

"[The impacts from Laura] will surely slow down rebuilding efforts and make things slower for recovering from Delta," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said of the two hurricanes. "It likely requires a second round of rebuilding for some things that might have been done already, and could have brought more damage to those areas that already saw the damage from Laura."

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