Weather

Tropical Storm Nicholas Threatens Louisiana and Texas


NEW ORLEANS — Even as blue tarps cover damaged roofs across Louisiana and more than 100,000 people remain without power, a new tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to bring more wind and rain, most likely slowing the state’s recovery from Hurricane Ida and threatening residents who are already vulnerable.

Louisianans are dreading the arrival of Tropical Storm Nicholas, which is expected to hit Texas on Monday morning and then push northeast along the Louisiana coast on Monday night, just over two weeks after Hurricane Ida tore through the state. Forecasters say that more than a foot of rain could drench some areas.

“The neighbors and all of us, we’re feeling pretty anxious watching this other depression out there,” said Valerie Williams, as she nervously watched the cloudy skies on Sunday afternoon from her home in Luling, about 30 minutes west of New Orleans. Her husband and son installed a tarp on her roof after Hurricane Ida’s winds damaged it. “We don’t need another one — we really don’t,” she said.

Ida left New Orleans without power for more than 50 hours. Power has been restored in all but a sliver of the city, but roughly 118,000 electric customers outside New Orleans are still in the dark.

Entergy, the largest electric company in the state, has said the new storm has the potential to delay how quickly those residents get power back. New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana, which was hit hardest by Ida, could receive up to four inches of rain, while the southwestern part of the state could see up to 10 inches.

In Texas, the damage is likely to be worse. Forecasters are warning of the potential for major flooding in cities from Brownsville, Texas, to Lake Charles, La., a city of 85,000 people.

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana declared a state of emergency on Sunday night. “All Louisianans should pay close attention to this tropical system,” he said. Officials in Calcasieu Parish, which borders Texas and includes Lake Charles, established several sandbag-filling sites so that people could fortify their homes.

Mr. Edwards warned that the new storm would quite likely cause the worst damage in the southwestern portion of the state, where many residents are still recovering from Hurricane Laura in August 2020 and flooding this past May, when streets appeared like rivers and cars were almost entirely submerged. But Mr. Edwards said residents in other southern parts of the state were also in danger, including those who had sustained damage from Ida.

In Southwest Louisiana, many homes are still covered in blue tarps after Hurricane Laura wreaked havoc there. Overall, more than 52,000 state residents have requested free installation of durable tarps through Blue Roof, a program funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The installations are performed or overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The program is just ramping up, but Col. Zachary L. Miller of the corps’s Ida recovery mission said he had hoped to attach all temporary roofs within 60 days.

Now, he said, Nicholas may delay workers’ efforts. “We understand the sense of urgency homeowners feel,” he said. “And we also understand more rain can mean more damage.”



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