500,000 lose power as Hurricane Zeta tears through Louisiana

More than half a million people across Louisiana lost power Wednesday evening as Hurricane Zeta slammed the state, flooding streets and bringinging down power lines.

One of the state’s largest utility companies Entergy said that more than 477,000 customers in Louisiana lost power as of about 9:45 p.m. ET and that number was on the rise. Another roughly 69,000 customers of smaller utility firm Cleco had also lost power, the company said.

Jefferson Parish in Southeastern Louisiana and neighboring Orleans Parish collectively made up more than 330,000 of the outages, many in the city of New Orleans, according to Entergy’s site.

Videos and images posted on social media show the storm tearing down power lines, flooding streets and even washing boats ashore.

Zeta passed directly through New Orleans, the National Weather Service of New Orleans said. The city narrowly missed a number of other storms earlier this season.

The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said that the New Orleans Emergency Medical Services responded to a fatal electrocution related to a downed power line.

“Lines down. Limbs down. Transformers down. Stay inside,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said on Twitter.

Plaquemines, Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes all also reported downed trees and power lines in the wake of the storm.

“The good news for us — and look, you take good news where you can find it — the storm’s forward speed is 17 mph. That’s projected to increase, and so it’s going to get in and out of the area relatively quickly, and then we’re going to be able to assess the damage more quickly,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in an interview on The Weather Channel.

In Grand Isle, which sits on a narrow barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico and is under a mandatory evacuation order, Police Chief Scooter Resweber told weather.com earlier Wednesday that he was particularly concerned about power outages.

“I’m worried about the power outages and the poles actually coming down on our only highway,” Resweber said Wednesday morning. “If we have any kind of emergency, we can’t get to them with our emergency vehicles. The people who are here are going to be on their own if the poles start to come down.”

The storm made landfall late Wednesday afternoon as a Category 2 hurricane with winds as strong as 110 MPH and a life-threatening storm surge, the National Hurricane Center said. Zeta is the 27th named storm of what has been a historically busy hurricane season.

St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann said in a news briefing earlier Wednesday, before the storm hit, that he had picked up hints of “storm fatigue” that may have led to a lack of mobilization.

“There’s a little storm fatigue that I detected this morning,” he said. “I was getting a cup of coffee and a young lady had said, ‘Here we go again, I can’t believe they’re closing the coffee house and I’m not going to be able to work all day.’”

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