New Or­leans es­capes brunt of Hur­ri­cane Zeta

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION - By Kevin McGill, Stacey Plai­sance and Re­becca San­tana Kevin McGill, Stacey Plai­sance and Re­becca San­tana are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

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.

Ger­ald Her­bert / As­so­ci­ated Press

Pa­trons re­sume so­cial­iz­ing at Cuban Cigar Bar in the French Quar­ter in New Or­leans af­ter power was re­stored Wed­nes­day.

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