Hurricane Zeta crashes onshore in storm-weary Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Zeta slammed into storm-weary Louisiana on Wednesday with New Orleans squarely in its path, threatening to push up to 9 feet of sea water inland and batter homes and businesses with fierce winds in a Gulf Coast region already pounded by multiple storms this year.
Some roads were flooded near the coast, where forecasters said Zeta was making landfall around Terrebone Bay near Cocodrie. Rain pelted the French Quarter in New Orleans, where workers closed one of the last floodgates as residents braced for Zeta, though a few people were still out on Bourbon Street with umbrellas. The iconic streetcars were idled and City Hall closed, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.
Zeta had top sustained winds of 110 (177 kph) as a Category 2 hurricane and was the 27th named storm of a historically busy Atlantic hurricane season — with over a month left before it ends.
Tropical storm warnings were issued as far away as the north Georgia mountains, highly unusual for the region. New Orleans has been in the warning areas of seven previous storms that veered east or west this season. Zeta was staying on course.
“I don’t think we’re going to be as lucky with this one,” city emergency director Collin Arnold said.
Zeta had been predicted to hit as a relatively weak Category 1 hurricane, but Louisiana residents awoke to updated forecasts predicting a Category 2 at landfall around the southeastern part of the state.
“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.
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