Oct. 30 (UPI) — At least six people have died and almost 2 million customers remained without power as Category 2 hurricane Zeta moved through the U.S. South, leaving a path of destruction.
One storm-related fatality each was reported in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and three people were reported killed in Georgia by Thursday.
Among the deaths were 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.
By Thursday evening, the storm had passed about 25 miles off the shore of Cape May, N.J. and was spinning back into the mid-Atlantic ocean. Maximum sustained winds were recorded at 50 mph, which could still cause gusts in eastern North Carolina, southeaster Virginia and the southern Delmarva Peninsula, the National Hurricane Center said.
About 1.9 million power customers in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Oklahoma didn’t have electricity, according to Poweroutage.us’ evening update.
Georgia had the most customers in the dark with about 430,000 outages. Louisiana had more than 363,000; Alabama more than 322,000; Oklahoma over 241,000 and North Carolina and Mississippi each had more than 150,000.
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, Tropical Storm Zeta was still packing gusty winds as it moved northeast toward North Carolina and Virginia.
In New Orleans, officials warned people to beware of downed power lines and possible live wires on roads. Although there were no reports of significant flooding in the city, there was coastal flooding and some vessels broke loose from barges, damaging bridges.
Across the state, power outages posed a problem for polling places, and Gov. John Bel Edwards said restoring power there should be a priority.
A task force was 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 linemen were staged to begin recovery and power restoration.
The National Weather Service in Mobile, Ala., 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.
“Ambulance building destroyed. Windows blown in several homes and businesses. Numerous trees on homes and cars,” the post read.