400,000 Southeast Louisiana customers still without power after Hurricane Zeta

The most recent death toll increased to six nationwide

A resident clears storm drains after the eye of Hurricane Zeta passes over on October 28, 2020 in Arabi, Louisiana. A record seven hurrIcanes have hit the Gulf Coast in 2020, bringing prolonged destruction to the area. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Hurricane Zeta’s death toll increased to six in the Southeast as of 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. A man was electrocuted by a downed power line in New Orleans, another drowned in Biloxi and a man in Acworth, Georgia was killed when an oak tree fell on his home. Two people were also killed near Atlanta when a tree fell on their house, pinning them to the bed, and another person in Clarke County, Alabama died when a tree fell on their home, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

Down from the peak of 531,000 outages, more than 400,000 outages remain in Southeast Louisiana and dozens of roads remained closed almost 24 hours after Hurricane Zeta passed through the area, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. He was joined by leaders in three hard-hit parishes in the metropolitan New Orleans area.

Zeta made landfall in Southeast Louisiana, near Cocodrie in Terrebonne Parish, at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the maximum 110 mph for a Category 2 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service. 

In total, Zeta left about 2 million customers without power. More than 500,000 across Georgia, about 465,000 in Alabama, more than 510,000 across the Carolinas and about 80,000 in Mississippi were also without power, The New York Times reported.

Edwards traveled to Southeast Louisiana to assess the damage left behind by the fast-moving storm and to speak to local officials about cleanup and restoration progress. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee-Sheng and St. Tammany Parish President Michael Cooper all spoke at the press conference and urged their residents to be prepared to wait for things to get back to normal. 

“We suffered from a hurricane, Category 2 at its highest,” Cantrell said. “So the impacts are real, and I’m just asking for your patience as we move through the cleanup that is necessary and of course the outages.”

“It might be several days before power is restored across our entire parish,” Cooper said as he also asked his residents to be patient throughout the restoration process.

Lee-Sheng and Cantrell said with the extent of the power outages, there’s a chance that their parishes’ sewer systems could be overwhelmed. Lee-Sheng asked her residents to “just engage in your basic services to produce the least amount of waste water from your home.”

“Don’t do your laundry right now,” Lee-Sheng said. “It’s those kinds of decisions we have to make to avoid (sewage) backups.”

Edwards said now is not the time “to engage in sightseeing” as search and rescue teams are on the streets and 22 roadways remain closed due to debris and flooding. More than 1,900 Louisiana National Guard soldiers and 5,550 linemen have been activated to assist with Hurricane Zeta recovery.