Casinos continued to close in Louisiana on Friday as Hurricane Delta lashed the state with torrential rainfall and strong winds.
Hurricane Delta roars up through the Gulf of Mexico towards the Louisiana coast. Six weeks ago, Hurricane Laura struck Louisiana with devastating winds. (Image: ABC News)
By midday Friday, with the hurricane barreling toward shore, more than a half dozen casinos and racetracks were closed across South Louisiana.
The closings on Friday included the Evangeline Downs Racetrack, Casino and Hotel in Opelousas, the Amelia Belle Casino near Morgan City, and the Belle of Baton Rouge. The Boomtown Casino in Harvey, across the Mississippi River south of downtown New Orleans, also was closed on Friday, according to Lt. Robert Fontenot of the Louisiana State Police
“Others will close if needed,” Fontenot told Casino.org.
On Thursday, as the storm churned toward the coast, all four resorts in the Lake Charles area were closed, Fontenot said. In August, these four casinos were damaged when Hurricane Laura struck the area.
Hurricane Delta, roaring up the Gulf of Mexico at about 14 mph, was projected to made landfall in Louisiana on Friday evening just east of Lake Charles. The Category 2 storm was expected to slam into the shoreline with wind speeds of 105 mph. By Saturday, Hurricane Delta’s remnants were expected to veer northeast into Mississippi and Tennessee.
Lake Charles Still Reeling
As Friday’s hurricane began rolling ashore, the Lake Charles area was continuing to recover from Hurricane Laura just six weeks earlier.
On The Weather Channel Friday, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said “thousands and thousands” of homes still were topped with blue tarps where the roofs had been. Lake Charles has a population of about 78,000.
Authorities expressed concern that the tarps world be ripped off in Hurricane Delta. Another concern was that debris would turn into missiles during Friday’s storm, causing additional damage.
On Aug. 27, Hurricane Laura came ashore with wind speeds of 150 mph, making it a Category 4 hurricane. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said it was the strongest storm ever to hit the state. At least 30 people in the region were killed.
Strong winds during Hurricane Laura also knocked the Isle of Capri, a riverboat casino, loose from its moorings. After striking a bridge, the unoccupied riverboat was returned to its original location. All four casinos in the Lake Charles area later reopened.
Hurricane Delta is the 10th tropical storm or hurricane to hit the mainland United States this year, a record number. The previous record was set in 1916 at nine.
Hurricane Delta is the fourth hurricane or tropical storm to make landfall in Louisiana this year, tying a 2002 record, the Associated Press reported. The hurricane on Friday is the 25th named storm in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.
After National Hurricane Center forecasters ran out of traditional names this year, they began using the Greek alphabet in labeling the hurricanes. This is only the second time the center has needed to use the Greek alphabet. The first time was in the 2005 hurricane season
During that 2005 season, Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast in late August, killing 1,833 people, according to CNN. Of that total, 1,577 were in Louisiana. Almost half of the people who died in Louisiana were over the age of 74. Approximately 40 percent of the Louisiana deaths during Katrina were attributed to drownings.
Hurricane Katrina also devastated the casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Barge casinos were torn from their moorings in a 25-foot wall of water, tossing some onto land 200 yards from the shore, according to the AP.
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