(CNN) — At least five people were killed and more than 2.1 million homes were without power Thursday morning after Zeta hit the Gulf Coast and hurtled inland.
Zeta made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday, before weakening to a post-tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 80.5 km / h on Thursday afternoon.
The storm continued with strong winds as it moved through North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Damaging winds and gusts are forecast through Thursday night in parts of eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, the NHC said. And parts of the central Appalachians, the mid-Atlantic, and the lower-to-mid Ohio Valley could have total rainfall between 2.5 and 7.6 centimeters, which could lead to flooding.
Louisiana is still reeling from previous storms
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday that Zeta made landfall as an “extremely strong” Category 2 hurricane.
The first death attributed to Zeta was reported Wednesday, when a 55-year-old man was electrocuted by a downed power line, the Louisiana Governor’s Office reported, citing the Orleans district coroner.
About 500,000 people in Louisiana were without power Thursday morning, including two-thirds of New Orleans residents, according to Christina Stephens, the governor’s deputy chief of staff.
Officials asked people to stay off the roads due to downed power lines. There were no reports of significant flooding in the city, according to local officials. But there were coastal flooding and some boats were released from the barges, damaging bridges.
The governor’s office said the damaged bridges would be inspected to determine if they are passable.
Power outages also created problems at polling places. Edwards said restoring power to those locations was a priority. A task force has been formed to ensure there are alternate polling places for those who remain off duty, the governor said.
Millions without electricity per Zeta
At least 32.7 million people from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas were under tropical storm warnings this morning. The last time the metro Atlanta area was under such a warning was October 2018, when Hurricane Michael passed over the region.
As the Zeta moved inland through the south, it caused substantial power outages in several states. More than 1.7 million homes were still without power in Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina as of Thursday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.US.
Officials from the Jefferson and Terrebonne districts had issued mandatory evacuation orders prior to the hurricane for coastal areas and locations outside of major levees. In New Orleans, voluntary evacuations were called for similar areas.
Louisiana is still recovering from the damage caused by recent hurricanes, including Laura and Delta. On Thursday, Governor Edwards said that of the 3,394 residents who are in shelters, only 76 were evacuated due to Zeta.
Most of the evacuees have been displaced since August by Hurricane Laura and have gone to six hotels in New Orleans, the Governor’s Office said.
Edwards said more than 1,500 National Guard members have been activated and more than 5,000 technicians are ready to begin power recovery and restoration efforts Thursday morning.
A man was killed in Georgia Thursday morning when a large oak tree fell on a mobile home in Cherokee County, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, according to Capt.Jay Baker of the county sheriff’s office.
Officials believe the death is related to the strong Zeta winds, Baker told CNN.
Three other adults and a child were also in the home at the time, Baker said, but they were not injured.
Two people were killed when a tree fell on their bed at their home in Gwinnett County, Georgia, according to firefighters and local emergency officials. Firefighters, police and rescue personnel were on the scene working to recover the bodies, authorities said.
In Mississippi, 58-year-old Biloxi resident Leslie Richardson also died from Zeta, according to Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer. Richardson drowned after filming the waves at a Biloxi marina, Switzer told CNN.
Richardson and another man were filming the waves when they were surrounded by rising water, Switzer said. Richardson called 911 and both men swam to a tree, where they held out for a while.
Richardson drowned, while the other man survived.
‘Significant’ damage in Southwest Alabama
The National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, said Thursday on Facebook that he had received reports, through Clarke County emergency officials, of significant damage throughout the county. Structural damage. Destroyed ambulance building. Broken windows in several houses and businesses. Numerous trees in houses and cars. Communications and the Internet out, “he published.
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson declared a curfew from Thursday night at 6:30 pm local time until 6:30 am Friday morning, referring to “hanging branches and traffic lights and leaning or weakened trees, “according to his Twitter account.
The order will not apply to police or employees traveling to and from work, the mayor’s account said.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he asked residents to finish storm preparations quickly and warned that even the central part of the state could see tropical storm winds.
Before turning its way to the coast of the United States, Zeta hit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula Monday night as a Category 1 hurricane.
Zeta is the twenty-seventh tropical cyclone of the Atlantic hurricane season. This year he is close to tying the record for most cyclones in a season. There were 28 in 2005, including 15 hurricanes.
– CNN’s Amara Walker contributed to this report.
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