(The Center Square) – Hurricane Zeta lashed the Gulf Coast with sustained 100-mile-per-hour winds late Wednesday, causing at least three reported deaths and leaving some two million homes and businesses without electricity.
Zeta weakened into a tropical storm but continued to pose a threat to lives and property late Thursday morning as it passed through the Carolinas and Virginia.
A 55-year-old man in New Orleans died from electrocution, officials reported. A 58-year-old man drowned in Biloxi, Mississippi, while in Georgia, a man was killed when a tree fell on his mobile home, according to local reports.
About two million electricity customers were without power Thursday across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, according to PowerOutage.US.
Zeta made landfall as a strong Category 2 hurricane in Cocodrie, La. at about 4 p.m. Wednesday. The storm was moving swiftly at 24 miles per hour and accelerated after that, helping to limit the amount of rainfall.
Louisiana saw the “most catastrophic” damage in Grand Isle, Gov. John Bel Edwards said. A levee was breeched in Grand Isle, and pumps have been stationed to “de-water” the area. No other levees failed or were overtopped, he said.
First responders were searching for anyone who might need to be rescued, and Edwards asked residents to stay off the roads.
“It is exactly the wrong time to go sight-seeing,” he said.
Edwards said 3,394 Louisiana residents were in shelters, most of them evacuees from Hurricane Laura, which hit southwest Louisiana in late August. Only 76 Zeta evacuees were in shelters, all in local facilities, though that number may grow.
Edwards said he was unable to give an estimated timeline for power restoration, though he noted that most of the damage to the state’s electricity infrastructure was to distribution lines and not the larger transmission lines that take longer to repair or replace.
As Election Day approaches, it is likely that some voting locations will be without power. Edwards urged voters to pay attention to Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office and local clerks of court in case changes are necessary.