Gulf Coast braces, again, for hurricane as Zeta takes aim
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Residents of the storm-pummeled Gulf Coast steeled themselves for yet another tropical weather strike Tuesday after Zeta raked across the Yucatan Peninsula on a track that forecasters said would likely bring it ashore south of New Orleans as a hurricane.
Tropical Storm Zeta, the 27th named storm of a very busy Atlantic hurricane season, headed for a Wednesday evening landfall and was expected to bring another round of high water and strong wind to a state that already this year 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 weeks later.
This time, Zeta — with 65 mph (100 kph) winds and centered 485 miles (785 kilometers) south of the Mississippi River's mouth — was on a track for southeast Louisiana. Its approach frayed nerves in New Orleans, where thousands of evacuees left homeless by Laura are sheltered in hotels.
“It really is scary, and I don’t know what to do,” said Yolanda Lockett, who evacuated her Lake Charles apartment — now a rain-soaked, moldy mess — ahead of Laura at the end of August. “I’m physically and mentally tired,” she said, standing outside a New Orleans hotel.
Hurricane warnings went up from the central Louisiana coast to the Alabama state line. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared an emergency ahead of the storm. And commercial fishermen began a familiar hurricane preparation ritual.
“We’re getting pretty good at it for doing it five times this season so far," said Robert Campo as he readied his marina at Shell Beach for the storm. The routine includes removing gas pumps used to fuel boats, loading frozen bait onto old school buses that have been converted into mobile freezer units and tying down trash...