Louisiana reported its first death Sunday after the second hurricane in two months battered the Gulf Coast and left hundreds of thousands of people without power.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said the victim, an 86-year-old man in St. Martin Parish, died after a generator he was refueling sparked a fire. Edwards said it appeared the generator, which was in a shed, hadn’t cooled down before the man tried to refuel it.
In a briefing, the governor urged residents to be cautious with generators, telling them to always let a generator sit for 20 minutes before after it’s been turned off before refueling.
Hurricane Delta — the 10th Atlantic Basin storm to hit the U.S. mainland this season — made landfall on Friday night as a Category 2 storm, bringing maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and a storm surge estimated at several feet.
Hurricane Laura struck the same region six weeks ago.
Edwards’ announcement came as nearly 350,000 customers remained without power in the state — a drop from nearly 700,000 on Saturday, Edwards said. More than 100,000 of the outages were in Calcasieu Parish, in the state’s southeastern corner, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages across the country.
Drone footage from Iowa, a small town in Calcasieu Parish, showed much of the area underwater.
One hundred miles east, at a coastal camp near Weeks Bay, Craig Duhon was cleaning up several inches of mud and silt Sunday after a roughly 4-foot tidal surge swamped his property. Duhon had moved most of his belongings to his home in New Iberia, but he said the routine was difficult.
“It’s heartbreaking, but we try to lose as little property as we can, to where most of it’s just cleanup,” he said. “Next week, we’ll forget about it because we’ll be here enjoying the good life.”
That sentiment was shared by George Sobiesk at nearby Cypremort Point, who lost much of his camp to Hurricane Lili, a deadly Category 5 storm that hit the region in 2002. He rebuilt the structure 20 feet above sea level and, unlike some neighbors, suffered no damage from Delta.
“This is what comes with the” territory,” he said, adding: “You just live with it.”
Edwards said that more 9,000 people were in shelters across Louisiana and in Texas. The vast majority — 8,230 — were people who were evacuated during Hurricane Laura.