Oct. 28--Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday Hurricane Zeta is still shaping up as a wind event, including gusts of up to 100 miles per hour in the New Orleans area.
"Zeta is literally on our door step," Edwards said during a 1 p.m. briefing for reporters.
"The weather is degrading quickly as we speak," he said. "It is going to be a rough evening for Louisiana, especially in the southeast region."
The governor said power outages could be extensive, especially for those on the east side of the storm.
"We do believe this will primarily be a wind event," Edwards told reporters.
He said about 5,700 linemen are standing by to repair utility lines and more can be brought in if needed, including some from Texas helping with an ice storm.
Edwards also said about 1,500 members of the National Guard are activated and ready to offer assistance.
Zeta is expected to arrive on the coast of southeast Louisiana on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 2 hurricane.
It is forecast to make landfall around the border of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.
Winds of up to 90 mph are possible in St. Tammany Parish.
Storm surge of 5-8 feet are possible between Port Fourchon and the mouth of the Mississippi River; 4-6 feet between Morgan City and Port Fourchon and 3-5 feet in Lake Pontchartrain.
"If you have a storm surge warning by definition that means it is life threatening," Edwards said.
Mandatory evacuations are in effect for parts of Jefferson, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes.
Voluntary evacuations are in effect for sections of Orleans and Plaquemines parishes.
Edwards said the storm is moving at about 17 miles per hour -- considered fast -- and is expected to accelerate again after making landfall.
Hurricane Zeta came ashore near Cocoderie with 110 mile per hour winds at about 4 p.m. Wednesday. The storm is expected to be over Birmingham by sunrise, then travel northeast Thursday through Georgia, North Carolina and be in the middle of Virginia with 45 mile per hour winds by Wednesday night.
"It will get in and out of the area relatively quickly," Edwards said, adding that the speed of the hurricane, which works in the state's favor, stems from the convergence of the hurricane with a cold front headed to south Louisiana.
The governor also said he believes the New Orleans area is well-prepared for the latest weather event.
Earlier in the day Edwards said on WWL Radio that the storm is expected to pass over or just east of New Orleans and that residents can expect tropical force winds around 4 p.m.
Asked about the fatigue of weather-weary residents amid the coronavirus pandemic Edwards said, "People are fatigued by COVID-19 but that doesn't mean the virus is going to go away."
"People are fatigued by all the storms but that doesn't mean the storms are not going to hit."
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the coronavirus.
The state reported 503 new cases of the virus Wednesday and 10 more deaths, boosting the fatalities total to 5,676.
Rain totals from Hurricane Zeta are expected to be 2-4 inches.
The projected path has changed little in the past 24 hours.
"I am thankful that it is not southwest Louisiana," Edwards said early Wednesday during an appearance on The Weather Channel.
The Lake Charles area was battered by Category 4 Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 and Category 2 Hurricane Delta six weeks later.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening approved the state's request for federal assistance to help cope with Zeta.
"This assistance will be critical in responding to this hurricane, assisting local governments and beginning our long-term recovery efforts," Edwards said in a statement.
"Louisiana has faced an incredibly active hurricane season this year, and we have been working in partnership with the federal government and local officials since March on the response to the pandemic in addition to two major hurricanes in southwest Louisiana."
State offices in 13 parishes will be closed Thursday because of the storm.
The list includes Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne and Washington parishes.
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