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Rescue and emergency teams are counting the damage caused by Hurricane Zeta, which made Louisiana a very powerful Category 2 storm on Wednesday afternoon. Zita has brought strong winds to most of the southeast, where more than 2 million energy customers are now without electricity.
The hurricane hit the Louisiana coast with winds of 110 mph, and arrived Wednesday afternoon near Cocodre, in Tribune Parish. Then her eye dashed inward over New Orleans and the surrounding areas before dashing into Mississippi and the neighboring states.
He said the storm blamed at least six deaths The Associated Press. The number includes four people killed by falling trees in Alabama and Georgia, a man who drowned in Mississippi, and another man who was electrocuted by live power lines.
In Louisiana, huge oak trees were toppled by Zeta in homes and downed power lines. He also caused numerous violations in the “burrito levee” on Grand Isle, in Jefferson Parish. The parish has canceled the school until Friday due to the damage caused by the storm.
“The most catastrophic damage appears to have been in the Grand Isle,” Louisiana Gov. John Bill Edwards said Thursday morning, as crews used daylight to assess the worst affected areas.
The blackout also contributed to at least one car accident, when two vehicles collided at an intersection where traffic lights were dark in Slidell, Los Angeles. Police said.
Due to the storm’s rapid forward movement – it made the descent at 24 miles per hour – its torrential rain did not cause the kind of dangerous internal flooding that the recent storms had brought about.
“The flood damage to us has already come from an altitude along the coast,” Edwards said.
Most of the power outages are in Georgia, with 677,842 customers losing electricity, according to the tracking website Power Outage. Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina each saw more than 400,000 accounts hidden, along with more than 200,000 in Mississippi and 150,000 in South Carolina.
Power cuts complicate election plans, creating dangerous conditions for people waiting in lines to vote early and wiping out power at polling stations.
In Georgia, people in 16 counties found their polling stations without electricity, according to Emil Moffat NPR WABE member station In Atlanta. Officials say they are prioritizing switching the lights back on at these locations.
“Election officials say at least one county in Northeast Georgia will not open its doors at all on Thursday, leaving only one last day there for early personal voting,” Moffat says.
Edwards said 1,940 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated to assist Louisiana in responding to emergencies and disasters. He also said that more than 3,000 people are in shelters – most of them already displaced by previous storms in the disastrous hurricane season for the Gulf Coast.
“Search and rescue operations in urban areas are underway throughout the affected area,” Edwards said in a testimony after surveying affected areas on Thursday afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center said Zeta was now a tropical depression early Thursday afternoon. The center added that the storm is still bringing strong winds to North Carolina and Virginia, and some hurricanes may form in these two states this afternoon.
NHC said Zeta was still carrying strong winds of 50 mph as it crossed over southern Virginia. Almost 24 hours after making landfall on the Gulf Coast, the Hurricane Center said in its update at 2 p.m. EST, the storm was racing across the southeastern United States at 53 miles per hour.
“A faster movement is expected to the east and north-east, tonight and Friday,” the center said.