Hurricane Zeta Causes Chaos Along the Gulf Coast

Credits: Satellite image from October 28th showing Hurricane Zeta moving ashore in Louisiana. (CIRA/RAMMB)

by Allison Li

Hurricane Zeta, a Category 2 storm, is the 27th-named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and the strongest hurricane to ever hit New Orleans. As the Weather Channel puts it, “The U.S is facing coast-to-coast chaos.”

Zeta was not expected to gain so much strength. However, a combination of an ice storm in Oklahoma and the fires in California led to the storm intensifying. Zeta (predicted to be a Category 1 storm) was almost a Category 3 storm with winds of 110 mph at landfall.

The storm caused damage far inland across seven states after landfall in Louisiana. More than 2.6 million homes and businesses lost power. In Georgia alone, at its peak, 1 million people reported power outages. Louisiana had 444,000 outages, and Alabama had 414,000.

At least six people have died from the storm. In Louisiana, a 55-year old man was electrocuted by power lines. In Mississippi, a man drowned while taking videos of the hurricane at a marina. The other deaths took place in Georgia and Alabama and were due to trees falling on homes.

The worst damage occurred in the Grand Isle area, located in Louisiana. The storm upended trees, knocked down power lines, and made three breaches along the “burrito levee”. A burrito levee is a makeshift levee packed with sand that serves to protect the shoreline. 

In North Carolina, a mail carrier was leaning out of the truck delivering mail when a tree fell on his truck. One of the first things he and his supervisor did afterward was secure the mail, which included ballots.

In the aftermath of the storm on Friday night, nearly 175,000 people in Georgia still did not have power. Terri Statham, a spokeswoman for Georgia EMC, states that the damage Zeta inflicted was “some of the worst Georgia has seen in a number of years.”


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