New Orleans escapes brunt of Hurricane Zeta
NEW ORLEANS — Hurricane Zeta slammed into the storm-weary Gulf Coast on Wednesday, pelting the New Orleans metro area with rain and howling winds that ripped apart buildings, knocked out power to thousands and threatened to push up to 9 feet of sea water inland in a region already pounded by multiple storms this year.
The storm killed at least one person, a 55yearold man who a Louisiana coroner said was electrocuted by a downed power line in New Orleans, and officials said lifethreatening conditions would last into Thursday.
St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis said emergency workers were doing their best to respond to reports of people in distress after their roofs were blown off.
“Guys, we received the brunt of Zeta, and Zeta gave us a good punch,” McInnis told WDSUTV.
Roads were flooded near the coast, where forecasters said Zeta made landfall around Terrebone Bay near Cocodrie, a fishing village.
Streams of rainfall ran off roofs in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter, signs outside bars and restaurants swayed back and forth in the wind and palm trees along Canal Street whipped furiously.
With much of the city in the dark and more than 200 trees reported down, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell implored residents to stay home and let city officials assess the damage instead of going out and doing it themselves.
“Although we have made it through, we have been damaged, we have been hit,” she said.
More than 875,000 customers were without electricity in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, including about 350,000 in metro New Orleans. Outages were mounting quickly as the storm moved northeastward across the Deep South.
Zeta had top sustained winds of 110 mph as a Category 2 hurricane at landfall and is the 27th named storm of a historically busy Atlantic hurricane season — with over a month left to go. It set a new record as the 11th named storm to make landfall in the continental U. S. in a single season, well beyond the nine storms that hit in 1916.
Zeta weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph as it moved into southern Mississippi after landfall, but forecasters said it remained a lifethreatening storm.
President Trump approved an emergency declaration for Mississippi on Wednesday evening.
Tropical storm warnings were issued as far away as southern Virginia, highly unusual for the region.
New Orleans was in the warning areas of six previous storms that veered east or west this season. This time, Zeta stayed on course.
Patrons resume socializing at Cuban Cigar Bar in the French Quarter in New Orleans after power was restored Wednesday.