Nicholas, now a tropical depression, still douses Gulf Coast

  • Jarod Voisin closes the doors of his family's heavily damaged oyster processing plant, as rain from Tropical Storm Nicholas, currently in the Gulf of Mexico, comes down, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Houma, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

    Jarod Voisin closes the doors of his family's heavily damaged oyster processing plant, as rain from Tropical Storm Nicholas, currently in the Gulf of Mexico, comes down, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Houma, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Associated Press

  • Alfa Alamia cleans up her brother's yard in Palacios, Texas following Hurricane Nicholas on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Alamia has lived in Palacios since she was 12. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Alfa Alamia cleans up her brother's yard in Palacios, Texas following Hurricane Nicholas on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Alamia has lived in Palacios since she was 12. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Adrian Bentancourt cleans up debris from a fence that was blow down by Hurricane Nicholas Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas.

    Adrian Bentancourt cleans up debris from a fence that was blow down by Hurricane Nicholas Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas. Associated Press

  • People get gas the morning after Hurricane Nicholas made landfall along the coast, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    People get gas the morning after Hurricane Nicholas made landfall along the coast, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • A man walks down Seawall Boulevard near 61st Street on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas. Hurricane Nicholas made landfall early in the morning along the coast. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A man walks down Seawall Boulevard near 61st Street on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas. Hurricane Nicholas made landfall early in the morning along the coast. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Parts of a roof sit on top of a car parked at Blessings Tire and Auto Care following Hurricane Nicholas in Bay City, Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. According to the owner of the business, he wasn't sure where the roof came from. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Parts of a roof sit on top of a car parked at Blessings Tire and Auto Care following Hurricane Nicholas in Bay City, Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. According to the owner of the business, he wasn't sure where the roof came from. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Adrian Bentancourt cleans up debris from a fence that was blown down by Hurricane Nicholas Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas.

    Adrian Bentancourt cleans up debris from a fence that was blown down by Hurricane Nicholas Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas. Associated Press

  • A surfer tries to paddle through the surf as wind and rain from Tropical Storm Nicholas batters the area Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, along the seawall in Galveston, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A surfer tries to paddle through the surf as wind and rain from Tropical Storm Nicholas batters the area Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, along the seawall in Galveston, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • John Pittman, a nurse who works in emergency medicine, fishes to decompress as Tropical Storm Nicholas heads toward the Texas coast, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, along the seawall in Galveston, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    John Pittman, a nurse who works in emergency medicine, fishes to decompress as Tropical Storm Nicholas heads toward the Texas coast, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, along the seawall in Galveston, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Cheri Daigle, a retired teache, takes a photo as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches the Texas coast Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, along the seawall in Galveston, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Cheri Daigle, a retired teache, takes a photo as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches the Texas coast Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, along the seawall in Galveston, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Larry Reed, left, Fred Williams, center, and Adrian Bentancourt clean up debris from a fence that was blown down by Hurricane Nicholas Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas.

    Larry Reed, left, Fred Williams, center, and Adrian Bentancourt clean up debris from a fence that was blown down by Hurricane Nicholas Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas. Associated Press

  • Cyclist make their way down a street in Bay City, Texas as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Cyclist make their way down a street in Bay City, Texas as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • A Dairy Queen in Bay City, Texas, stays open as customers try to get in a meal before it closes as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A Dairy Queen in Bay City, Texas, stays open as customers try to get in a meal before it closes as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Paul Villagomez secures filled gas containers in his truck as he prepares for Tropical Storm Nicholas, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Kingwood, Texas. "I'm just trying to be prepared," Villagomez said. "I'm actually surprised there aren't more people filling up." (Jason Fochtman/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Paul Villagomez secures filled gas containers in his truck as he prepares for Tropical Storm Nicholas, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Kingwood, Texas. "I'm just trying to be prepared," Villagomez said. "I'm actually surprised there aren't more people filling up." (Jason Fochtman/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • A downed tree following Hurricane Nicholas in Bay City, Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A downed tree following Hurricane Nicholas in Bay City, Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Daniel fishes in the Gulf of Mexico as winds from what was Hurricane Nicholas continue to push waves closer to shore Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas.

    Daniel fishes in the Gulf of Mexico as winds from what was Hurricane Nicholas continue to push waves closer to shore Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Galveston, Texas. Associated Press

  • Jarod Voisin walks through damage of his family's heavily damaged oyster processing plant, as rain from Tropical Storm Nicholas, currently in the Gulf of Mexico, comes down, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Houma, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

    Jarod Voisin walks through damage of his family's heavily damaged oyster processing plant, as rain from Tropical Storm Nicholas, currently in the Gulf of Mexico, comes down, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Houma, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Associated Press

  • Lerryn Brune, 10, center, Terren Dardar, 17, right, and Dayton Verdin, 14, move barrels of rainwater they collected from Tropical Storm Nicholas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. They have had no running water since the hurricane, and collected 140 gallons of rainwater in two hours from the tropical storm, which they filter and pump into their house for showers.

    Lerryn Brune, 10, center, Terren Dardar, 17, right, and Dayton Verdin, 14, move barrels of rainwater they collected from Tropical Storm Nicholas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. They have had no running water since the hurricane, and collected 140 gallons of rainwater in two hours from the tropical storm, which they filter and pump into their house for showers. Associated Press

  • Terren Dardar, 17, and Dayton Verdin, 14, left, pour barrels of rainwater they collected from Tropical Storm Nicholas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. They have had no running water since the hurricane, and collected 140 gallons of rainwater in two hours from the tropical storm, which they filter and pump into their house for showers.

    Terren Dardar, 17, and Dayton Verdin, 14, left, pour barrels of rainwater they collected from Tropical Storm Nicholas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. They have had no running water since the hurricane, and collected 140 gallons of rainwater in two hours from the tropical storm, which they filter and pump into their house for showers. Associated Press

  • Storm clouds from Tropical Storm Nicholas are seen behind a home that was destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) 985-850-1149

    Storm clouds from Tropical Storm Nicholas are seen behind a home that was destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) 985-850-1149 Associated Press

  • Terren Dardar, 17, left, Dayton Verdin, 14, and Lerryn Brune, 10, move barrels of rainwater they collected from Tropical Storm Nicholas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. They have had no running water since the hurricane, and collected 140 gallons of rainwater in two hours from the tropical storm, which they filter and pump into their house for showers.

    Terren Dardar, 17, left, Dayton Verdin, 14, and Lerryn Brune, 10, move barrels of rainwater they collected from Tropical Storm Nicholas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. They have had no running water since the hurricane, and collected 140 gallons of rainwater in two hours from the tropical storm, which they filter and pump into their house for showers. Associated Press

  • Utility crews replace power poles destroyed by Hurricane Ida as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

    Utility crews replace power poles destroyed by Hurricane Ida as Tropical Storm Nicholas approaches in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Associated Press

  • Storm clouds from Tropical Storm Nicholas are seen behind homes of the vanishing Native American community of Isle de Jean Charles, La., which were destroyed by Hurricane Ida, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

    Storm clouds from Tropical Storm Nicholas are seen behind homes of the vanishing Native American community of Isle de Jean Charles, La., which were destroyed by Hurricane Ida, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Associated Press

  • Storm clouds from Tropical Storm Nicholas are seen behind homes of the vanishing Native American community of Isle de Jean Charles, La., which were destroyed by Hurricane Ida, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

    Storm clouds from Tropical Storm Nicholas are seen behind homes of the vanishing Native American community of Isle de Jean Charles, La., which were destroyed by Hurricane Ida, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Associated Press

  • Storm clouds from approaching Tropical Storm Nicholas are seen behind homes destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

    Storm clouds from approaching Tropical Storm Nicholas are seen behind homes destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Pointe-aux-Chenes, La., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/14/2021 11:31 PM

SURFSIDE BEACH, Texas -- Tropical Storm Nicholas continued weakening Tuesday night after being downgraded to a tropical depression and slowing to a crawl over southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana, drenching both states with flooding rains.

The downgrade earlier Tuesday evening came the same day Nicholas blew ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, knocking out power to a half-million homes and businesses and dumping more than a foot (30.5 centimeters) of rain along the same area swamped by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

 

Nicholas could potentially stall over storm-battered Louisiana and bring life-threatening floods across the Deep South over the coming days, forecasters said.

Nicholas made landfall early Tuesday on the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula and was soon downgraded to a tropical storm. By Tuesday night, its center was 15 miles (24.14 kilometers) west-northwest or Port Arthur, Texas, with maximum winds of 35 mph (55 kph) as of 10 p.m. CDT, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. However, weather radar showed the heaviest rain was over southwestern Louisiana, well east of the storm center.

The storm is moving east-northeast at 6 mph (9 kph). The National Hurricane Center said the storm may continue to slow and even stall, and although its winds will gradually subside, heavy rainfall and a significant flash flood risk will continue along the Gulf Coast for the next couple days.

Galveston, Texas, saw nearly 14 inches (35 centimeters) of rain from Nicholas, the 14th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, while Houston reported more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain. That's a fraction of what fell during Harvey, which dumped more than 60 inches (152 centimeters) of rain in southeast Texas over a four-day period.

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In the small coastal town of Surfside Beach about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of Houston, Kirk Klaus, 59, and his wife Monica Klaus, 62, rode out the storm in their two-bedroom home, which sits about 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) above the ground on stilts.

'It was bad. I won't ever do it again,' Kirk Klaus said.

He said it rained all day on Monday and, as the night progressed, the rainfall and winds got worse.

Sometime around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, the strong winds blew out two of his home's windows, letting in rain and forcing the couple to continually mop their floors. Klaus said the rainfall and winds created a storm surge of about 2 feet in front of his home.

'It looked like a river out here,' he said.

Nearby, Andrew Connor, 33, of Conroe, had not been following the news at his family's rented Surfside Beach vacation house and was unaware of the storm's approach until it struck. The storm surge surrounded the beach house with water, prompting Connor to consider using surfboards to take his wife and six children to higher ground if the house flooded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The sea never made its way through the door, but it did flood the family sport utility vehicle, Connor said.

'When I popped the hood, I had seaweed and beach toys and all that stuff in my engine,' he said.

Nicholas is moving so slowly it will dump several inches of rain as it crawls over Texas and southern Louisiana, meteorologists said. This includes areas already struck by Hurricane Ida and devastated last year by Hurricane Laura. Parts of Louisiana are saturated with nowhere for the extra water to go, so it will flood, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

'It's stuck in a weak steering environment,' McNoldy said Tuesday. So while the storm itself may weaken 'that won't stop the rain from happening. Whether it's a tropical storm, tropical depression or post-tropical blob, it'll still rain a lot and that's not really good for that area.'

More than a half-million homes and businesses had lost power in Texas, but that number dropped below 200,000 by late Tuesday afternoon, according to the website poweroutage.us that tracks utility reports. Most of those outages were caused by powerful winds as the storm moved through overnight, utility officials said. Across Louisiana, about 89,000 customers remained without power Tuesday afternoon, mostly in areas ravaged by Hurricane Ida.

Nicholas brought rain to the same area of Texas that was hit hard by Harvey, which was blamed for at least 68 deaths, including 36 in the Houston area. After Harvey, voters approved the issuance of $2.5 billion in bonds to fund flood-control projects, including the widening of bayous. The 181 projects designed to mitigate damage from future storms are at different stages of completion.

McNoldy, the hurricane researcher, said Nicholas is bringing far less rain than Harvey did.

'It's not crazy amounts of rain. It isn't anything like Hurricane Harvey kind of thing with feet of rain,' McNoldy said. Harvey not only stalled for three days over the same area, it moved a bit back into the Gulf of Mexico, allowing it to recharge with more water. Nicholas won't do that, McNoldy said.

Nicholas, expected to weaken into a tropical depression by Tuesday night, could dump up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain in parts of southern Louisiana. Forecasters said southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle could see heavy rainfall as well.

On Tuesday, heavy rains from Nicholas pelted blue tarps that covered roofs damaged by Ida all over southern Louisiana.

Ida destroyed one building and left holes in the roof of the main plant at Motivatit Seafoods, a family-run oyster wholesaler in Houma, Louisiana. With rain from Nicholas pouring in on high-pressure processing equipment, owner Steven Voisin said he didn't know whether the machines could be saved after the latest round of tropical weather.

'And many people from here to New Orleans have this or more damage,' he said. 'They're not going to recover quickly or easily.'

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Sunday night, ahead of the storm's arrival in a state.

In southwestern Louisiana, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Monday that crews were scouring the drainage system to keep it free from debris that might clog up and cause flooding. But after multiple natural disasters in such a short period of time, he said he's worried about residents' state of mind.

Last year, Category 4 Hurricane Laura caused substantial structural damage across the city of nearly 80,000 residents. Weeks later, Hurricane Delta ripped through the same area. Freezing temperatures in January burst pipes across the city, and a May rainstorm swamped houses and businesses yet again. Some residents have had to gut houses multiple times over one year.

'With what people have gone through over the last 16 months here in Lake Charles, they are very, understandably, despondent, emotional. Any time we have even a hint of a weather event approaching, people get scared,' he said.

___

Associated Press writers Terry Wallace in Dallas; Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas; Jay Reeves in Houma, Louisiana; Rebecca Santana in New Orleans; Julie Walker in New York, and AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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