Southwest Louisiana braced for more rainfall Friday as storm-weary residents continued drying out from severe flooding earlier in the week and rebuilding from last year’s hurricanes.
Local officials said they were keeping an eye on a weather system in the Gulf that threatened to deluge the area with rain and possibly develop into a tropical depression. Sandbags were available at locations in Calcasieu Parish, which was hit by thunderstorms Monday that dumped as much as 18 inches of rain in some areas.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Monday’s rains were the third-heaviest in the city’s history and the speed of the flash floods took many by surprise, stranding and displacing hundreds of residents, some of whom took boats to safety. Hunter has estimated that 400 to 500 houses and other structures were flooded.
Nic Hunter pleased with call but wants to see action
At KD’s Diner in Lake Charles, where water outside rose nearly knee-deep, about 17 customers remained stranded for hours as flooding entered the building.
Dwayne Penn, 49, who owns an air-conditioning business and is a KD’s regular, said the water rose so fast he was stuck there for six hours. Everyone there took it in good humor, he said, sitting in the dark and talking with water at their feet. Videos have been shared on social media of the scene.
But Penn and others threw up their hands Friday at the idea of more heavy rains, saying there’s not much you can do except keep an eye on the forecast and gather sandbags. Lake Charles has taken a beating from last year's hurricanes Laura and Delta, followed by a fierce winter storm in February and this week's floods.
Lake Charles news in your inbox
“I think we need to get close to God. That’s what we need to do,” Penn joked as he stood in the parking lot at KD’s on Friday.
The disturbance in the Gulf was expected to move inland into Texas on Friday night between Corpus Christi and Houston, according to AccuWeather, potentially soaking southwest Louisiana.
“Regardless of whether this thing becomes a depression or even a tropical storm, the main threat’s going to be heavy rain and that’s likely whether it forms or not,” Calcasieu parish spokesman Tom Hoefer said.
He noted that sandbag locations were listed at calcasieuparish.gov/sandbags.
Roof tarps and destroyed buildings remain a common sight in some parts of Lake Charles.
Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that hit in August, was Louisiana’s most powerful hurricane in terms of wind speed since 1856. Hurricane Delta, a Category 2, followed on a similar path six weeks later, causing significant flooding.
LAKE CHARLES - This city tallied its losses from one of the worst floods in its history on Tuesday after powerful thunderstorms dumped up to 1…