Hurricane Zeta hits an already recovering Gulf Coast

The latest hurricane season in the U.S isn’t showing any signs of letting up. The Country, specifically the gulf coast, was still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Delta but is now faced with the daunting prospect of dealing with Hurricane Zeta. ​Zeta became only one of six storms to hit the U.S. in late October and the first hurricane to do so since 1985. 

The storm unleashed wind gusts over 100 mph in both Louisiana and Mississippi. A wind gust to 110 mph was clocked Wednesday in Golden Meadow, La., while a WeatherFlow anemometer reported a gust to 112 mph at Bayou Bienvenue, La. New Orleans proper likely saw a gust of between 80 and 90 mph, but the airport wound up with a gust up to 71 mph. The storm left over 2.5 million residents without power before moving inland. 

As Zeta approached this week, about 3,600 people still were displaced from Laura and Delta, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. This was the third hurricane, fifth storm and seventh evacuation to hit Louisiana this hurricane season. The state has become a target of these disasters recently. 

Zeta was labeled post-tropical Thursday afternoon, after retaining tropical characteristics until moving into Virginia. 

The hurricane center warned that strong gusts were still possible in parts of eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. 

More than 1.2 million homes and businesses were still without power across the Southern states; Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, by Friday afternoon. The hurricane is moving swiftly, leaving at least six people dead so far. The damages may cross the $5 billion threshold. 

Power outages caused by Tropical Storm Zeta knocked voting machines offline Thursday, delaying early voting at polling sites across Georgia.

One slightly positive aspect of the hurricane has been it’s rapid forward motion. Its heavy rains did not trigger the type of inland flooding that other recent storms have brought although some water damage in Leesburg has been reported but that is largely unrelated to this storm.

Meanwhile FEMA ramped up efforts to provide disaster relief, particularly in Mississippi and Louisiana- the two most severely hit states. President Trump approved an Emergency Declaration for Louisiana and Mississippi authorizing FEMA to provide emergency protective measures. The measures include direct federal assistance for 35 parishes in Louisiana and 13 counties in Mississippi. The recovery efforts also include shipping over 131,000 meals and 100,000 bottles of water to Mississippi.

The President had previously amended the Major Disaster Declaration for Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Laura. The amendment allows for 100% federal cost share for 30 days for both debris removal and emergency protective measures.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic isn’t done yet. 27 hurricanes have built up in the Atlantic so far this year and there is no indication things will stop. The record for a single year stands at 28 in 2005 which is likely to be broken this coming month. 

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