Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Hurricane Zeta leaves destruction in its path as it crosses southeast US

At least six deaths were reported after Zeta pummelled the US gulf coast

Hurricane Zeta whipped through Louisiana on Wednesday, making landfall as a category two hurricane and leaving devastation in its path.

As it barrelled towards the south-eastern states on Thursday, Zeta’s classification was lowered to a tropical storm.

By Thursday night, the storm had largely weakened as it travelled away from the coast and deeper into the Atlantic ocean.

The quick-moving storm passed through Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia early Thursday. While heavy rain and winds also pounded eastern Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolinas.

At least six deaths were reported after the hurricane battered the southern US coast.

Four people died in Alabama and Georgia when trees fell on homes. In New Orleans, a 55-year-old man was electrocuted by low-hanging power lines. In Mississippi, there were reports of a man drowning after attempting to capture video of the storm.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards described the damage as “catastrophic”. He ordered the Louisiana National Guard to fly in soldiers to assist with search and rescue efforts, including door-to-door checks on property.

The governor also urged people to be cautious during the recovery.

“Oddly enough, it isn’t the storms that typically produce the most injuries and the fatalities. It’s the cleanup efforts. It’s the use of generators. It’s the carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s the electrocution that comes from power lines. So, now is the time to be very, very cautious out there,” Mr Edwards said Thursday.

More than 32 million Americans were under a tropical storm warning after Zeta’s pummelling winds and heavy rainfall left swathes of damage across the US gulf coast on Wednesday night.

A multi-state power outage left 2.6 million customers without power, according to the website PowerOutage.us. Outages were reported in seven states, with nearly a million Georgia homes and businesses losing electricity. As the storm weakened on Thursday evening, several homes remained without power.

A large number of schools had cancelled or moved Thursday’s classes online. Elsewhere, people returned to work after a night of howling winds, dodging debris-filled roads and navigating traffic lights with no power.

Some designated voting centres also sustained damage.

Zeta left behind collapsed buildings, downed trees and flooded streets as it moved through the south eastern states.

Will Arute told The Associated Press that it sounded like a bomb went off when part of a large oak snapped outside his home in New Orleans, and part of the tree crashed into his car and a corner of his home.

“I did not anticipate this to happen. It was pretty intense along the eyewall when it went through here,” he said.

The storm first made landfall on Wednesday in the small Louisiana town of Cocodrie before it crossed through New Orleans and into neighbouring Mississippi, bringing with it fierce winds and storm surge.

The National Hurricane Center said the centre of Zeta moved across portions of the southeastern US on Thursday morning, before passing the mid-Atlantic states in the afternoon. By 8 pm on Thursday, the storm had largely weakened and was designated a post-tropical cyclone.

Forecasters ran out of traditional names for storms in September, forcing them to begin using the Greek alphabet for only the second time since the 1950s.

Updated: October 30, 2020 04:36 PM

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