326,000 remain in dark two days after Hurricane Zeta

Gov. Edwards estimates majority to be restored over weekend

By: - October 30, 2020 3:25 pm

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)

Two days after Hurricane Zeta hit the state with 110 mph winds, an estimated 326,000 customers in Louisiana remained without electricity Friday morning, down from a peak outage of more than half a million. A large percentage of those outages are in Jefferson Parish, where about 72 percent remained without power, Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a Friday morning press conference in Gretna.

The governor said he expects the majority of those outages to be restored Friday or Saturday,  but he asked people to remain patient. He said utility crews are still focusing on restoring critical infrastructure such as hospitals, nursing homes, government facilities and polling places for Tuesday’s presidential election.

Eighteen hospitals in Louisiana remained without electricity Friday morning and were operating on generators, Edwards said.

The governor activated 1,930 Louisiana National Guardsmen in support of Hurricane Zeta recovery efforts.

So far, 27 Louisianans are in shelters from Hurricane Zeta. An additional 3,051 from Hurricane Laura and 172 from Hurricane Delta remain in shelters, the governor said.

Jefferson Parish opened a hurricane shelter Thursday night, but no one used it, President Cynthia Lee Sheng said.

Friday morning, the Jefferson Parish Public Works Department deployed 640 workers who will remain in the field over the weekend to restore infrastructure such as water and sewerage systems, of which about 70 percent were offline Friday morning, Sheng said. She asked Jefferson Parish residents to refrain from using water for non-essential tasks including washing clothes, cleaning dishes and showering, so that the systems don’t become overloaded.

“Hold off on doing your laundry,” Sheng said. “Only do the essential things that you need.”

The storm damaged seven water mains in the parish. Crews repaired four of those Thursday and were still working on the remaining three Friday morning. Despite this, no one in Jefferson Parish is without water, Sheng said.

State officials still had no definitive updates on possible polling place relocations for Tuesday’s election. The governor said the secretary of state’s office was working to complete a damage assessment yesterday and is pivoting to power restoration today.

“Tremendous progress was made,” Edwards said. “We expect that’s going to accelerate today. But as I stand here, I’m fairly confident there will be voters on Tuesday that will not be able to vote in their normal polling location.”

He urged voters to continue to follow news updates on polling location changes over the weekend. Due to widespread power outages, some people may not know about changes until they arrive at their normal polling place on Tuesday and are redirected, the governor said.

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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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