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Hurricane Zeta kills 3, cuts power to over 2 M in U.S. South


Oct. 29 (UPI) — Over 2 million homes and businesses in five states were without power Thursday after Hurricane Zeta arrived over land in Louisiana as a Category 2 storm.

More than 2 million power customers in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Oklahoma didn’t have electricity, according to afternoon update. Georgia had the highest number of reports of customers in the dark at 632,542 outages. Louisiana had over 450,000 outages. Alabama and North Carolina each had over 350,000 outages, and Oklahoma had over 290,000 outages.

New Orleans’ famous Bourbon Street was dark on Thursday, along with almost 80% of the city.

Power utility Entergy said about 10% of New Orleans customers may have to wait as long as 10 days before electricity is restored.

Hundreds of uprooted trees were blamed for the majority of the outages as officials reported debris scattered across major thoroughfares.

Hurricane Zeta lashed southeastern Louisiana as the eye passed over the state Wednesday night. Tropical storm warnings covered the affected states, plus North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

By Thursday morning, now-Tropical Storm Zeta was still packing gusty winds as it moved northeast toward North Carolina and Virginia.

At least three people have died in the storm, including a 55-year-old man in New Orleans who was electrocuted when he touched a live power line.

A man drowned at a marina in Biloxi, Miss., while shooting a video of the storm and another died when a tree fell on a mobile home in Cherokee County, Ga.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, officials are warning people to beware of downed power lines and possible live wires on roads. Although there were no reports of significant flooding in the city, according to officials, there was coastal flooding and some vessels broke loose from barges, damaging bridges.

These bridges will be examined to determine if they are passable, according to the governor’s office.

Across the state, the power outages posed a problem for polling places, and Gov. John Bel Edwards said restoring power at such places should be a priority.

A task force has also been assembled to ensure people have alternate polling places if those in the dark remain out of service.

Zeta was mainly a wind event, according to Edwards, who added that Grand Isle along the Louisiana coast suffered the most flooding damage, but it was due to storm surge, not rainfall.

Louisiana is still recovering from Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Edwards said Thursday that out of 3,394 residents being sheltered, only 76 of them evacuated because of Zeta.

Most evacuees have been displaced since August from Laura across six hotels in New Orleans, according to the governor’s office.

Edwards added that more than 1,500 National Guard members have been activated and more than 5,000 lineman were staged to being recovery and power restoration Thursday morning.

The National Weather Service Mobile Alabama said in a Facebook post that it had received reports from local officials of “significant to major damage” in Clarke County, about 80 miles north of Mobile.

“Ambulance building destroyed. Windows blown in several homes and businesses. Numerous trees on homes and cars,” the NWS Mobile Alabama post read.


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