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Hurricane Zeta Aims at Gulf   10/28 06:38

   Zeta re-strengthened into a hurricane early Wednesday as Louisiana braced 
for the 27th named storm of a historically busy Atlantic hurricane season.

   NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Zeta re-strengthened into a hurricane early Wednesday as 
Louisiana braced for the 27th named storm of a historically busy Atlantic 
hurricane season.

   Landfall is expected south of New Orleans, with life-threatening storm surge 
and strong winds along portions of the northern Gulf Coast beginning around 
midday.

   Zeta raked across the Yucatan Peninsula Tuesday, striking as a hurricane, 
before weakening to a tropical storm.

   Hurricane warnings stretched from Morgan City, Louisiana, along the 
Mississippi coast to the Alabama state line. The tropical storm warning along 
the Florida panhandle has been extended eastward to the Walton/Bay County Line. 
Early Wednesday, the storm had sustained winds of 85 mph (136 kph) and was 
centered 320 miles (514 kilometers) south-southwest of the Mississippi River's 
mouth.

   The center of Zeta will approach the northern Gulf coast Wednesday and 
should make landfall in southeastern Louisiana in the afternoon, according the 
National Hurricane Center. Zeta will move over Mississippi Wednesday evening, 
and then cross the southeastern and eastern United States on Thursday.

   Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards asked President Donald Trump for a disaster 
declaration ahead of the storm. He and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey both declared 
emergencies, as did Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich in Biloxi, Mississippi. Trump 
declared an emergency for Louisiana Tuesday evening.

   "There's no doubt that we've seen a lot this year, with COVID and so many 
threats from so many storms," Gilich said in a news release, "but this storm 
shows that we haven't seen it all yet."

   As Zeta approached, New Orleans officials announced that a turbine that 
generates power to the city's aging drainage pump system broke down Sunday, 
with no quick repair in sight. There was enough power to keep the pumps 
operating if needed, but little excess power to tap if other turbines fail, 
officials said at a news conference with Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

   Officials said they were running through contingencies to provide power and 
make repairs where needed should there be other equipment problems. Forecasts 
called for anywhere from 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 centimeters) of rain to fall in 
the New Orleans area, but Zeta is expected to be a relatively fast-moving 
storm, possibly mitigating the flood threat.

   Zeta broke the previous record for a 27th named Atlantic storm, taking shape 
more than a month before that one on Nov. 29, 2005. It's also this season's 
11th hurricane. An average season sees six hurricanes and 12 named storms.

   The extraordinarily busy hurricane season has focused attention on the role 
of climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more 
destructive storms.

   Louisiana has been hit by two tropical storms and two hurricanes: Laura, 
blamed for at least 27 Louisiana deaths after it struck in August, and Delta, 
which exacerbated Laura's damage in the same area just weeks later. New Orleans 
has been in the warning area for potential tropical cyclones seven times this 
year, each one veering to the east or west.

   "I don't think we're going to be as lucky with this one," city emergency 
director Colin Arnold said.

   With yet another storm approaching, worries accumulated for people left 
homeless. The state is sheltering about 3,600 evacuees from Laura and Delta, 
most in New Orleans area hotels.

   "I'm physically and mentally tired," a distraught Yolanda Lockett of Lake 
Charles said, standing outside a New Orleans hotel.

   Meanwhile, many along the coast renewed an unwanted ritual of preparation.

   On Dauphin Island, off the Alabama coast, workers at Dauphin Island Marina 
prepared for Zeta, although in some places there was little left to protect 
after Hurricane Sally hit in September.

   "We don't have any docks or fuel pumps at this point. Sally took it all 
out," employee Jess Dwaileebe said.

   In Louisiana's coastal St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, Robert Campo 
readied his marina for another onslaught. "We're down for four or five days, 
that's four or five days nobody's fishing. That's four or five days nobody is 
shrimping. That's four or five days, no economic wheels are turning," he said.

   "I've never seen anything like it," said Thomas Hymel, an extension agent in 
Jeanerette with the LSU Agricultural Center. He said the storms have meant more 
than a month of down time for seafood harvesters, many of whom are already 
suffering a drop in demand from restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 
 
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