By Ariel Go
National News Staff Writer
With around two months left in the active Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Zeta has been named the 27th storm of 2020, nearly matching the record of 28 tropical storms during the 2005 season. After first slamming into the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane on Oct. 26, bringing torrential rains, Zeta lost its shape and its sustained wind speeds dropped to 65 mph. However, by the morning of Oct. 27, the storm began regaining strength and intensity while passing through the Gulf of Mexico, heading straight for Louisiana.
Hurricane Zeta barraged the Gulf coast of the United States late on Thursday, October 27 with powerful winds that destroyed homes and businesses, knocked down trees, and had cut out the power in multiple areas. It first struck southern Louisiana, the third hurricane of 2020 to make landfall in this state after Delta and Laura, in the fishing village of Cocodrie as a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. On the following day, the storm had begun its path through eastern Louisiana toward Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and other states. Strong gusts remained as the hurricane reached the state of Virginia, but by the evening of October 29, it had weakened to a post-tropical cyclone as it approached the southern tip of New Jersey and moved out over the western Atlantic Ocean.
The damage left by Hurricane Zeta was widespread and severely substantial. Zeta ripped roofs off, knocked power lines down, and inundated multiple streets and regions with flash flooding as it roared through southern and eastern United States. According to National Public Radio (NPR), the storm had knocked out the power in more than 2.6 million homes and businesses and had also caused the death of at least six people in the south.
CoreLogic, a financial service business providing real estate analytics and data, estimated that the damage sustained by three heavily impacted states- Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi- was $3.5 billion. This value includes residential and commercial losses from winds and storm surges. Additionally, due to continuing power outages, food loss from the absence of refrigeration, and the insecure phone and Wi-Fi services, various schools in multiple states had canceled all distance learning and in-person classes on Nov. 2, and have since released updates regarding class plans for the week.
Hurricane Zeta affected areas that were already impacted by other hurricanes previously, which further increases the threat of dangerous flooding. However, state officials have reported that recovery is speeding along. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided emergency protective measures, has awarded millions of dollars in grants and insurance claims to many states, including Louisiana and Alabama. FEMA has also pre-staged more than 6 million meals, about 8 million liters of bottled water, and 45 generators to the affected states. While recovery is currently in progress, it is important to note that the Atlantic storm season is not over yet, and meteorologists expect the possible formation of other storms in the next few weeks.
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