The Latest: Man drowns in Biloxi as Zeta blows through

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on Zeta (all times CDT):

8:50 a.m.

Officials say a man drowned in Biloxi, Mississippi, after getting trapped in rising ocean water pushed ashore by Zeta.

Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer says 58-year-old Leslie Richardson was at an old marina with another man Wednesday evening when the Gulf began to rise.

Switzer says Richardson called 911 and told a dispatcher the car was beginning to float so he and the other man were going to try to wade or swim to safety. The two made it as far as a tree and hung for safety as the wind and water raged. A military-style rescue truck wasn’t able to get through the floodwaters and Switzer says Richardson’s strength finally “just gave out.”

A person on a balcony at a nearby hotel spotted Richardson’s body floating in the flooded beachfront highway about two hours later and authorities were able to recover it once the weather calmed a little. Richardson’s acquaintance wasn’t badly injured.

It's the third death that's being blamed on Zeta as the storm races across the South after coming ashore in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane.


6:55 a.m.

Officials in Georgia say high winds from Tropical Storm Zeta have caused a second death in the South.

Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office says a large oak tree uprooted and fell through the corner of a mobile home, killing a man in Acworth. Two other adults and a child were in the home at the time of the incident but weren't injured.

Acworth is about 32 miles (51 kilometers) north of Atlanta.

The storm raged onshore Wednesday afternoon in Louisiana as a strong Category 2 and then moved swiftly across the New Orleans area and into neighboring Mississippi, bringing with it both fierce winds and storm surge.


5:45 a.m.

Nearly 2 million customers were without power across several southern states before dawn Thursday as Tropical Storm Zeta races through the region.

According to the website, about 1.8 million were without electricity in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Georgia has the most with more than 800,000 in the dark.

A fast-moving Zeta weakened to a tropical storm as it barreled northeast Thursday morning after ripping through Louisiana and Mississippi. The storm raged onshore Wednesday afternoon in the small village of Cocodrie in Louisiana as a strong Category 2 and then moved swiftly across the New Orleans area and into neighboring Mississippi, bringing with it both fierce winds and storm surge.


4:00 a.m.

A tropical storm warning is in effect in Atlanta as Tropical Storm Zeta makes its way quickly toward the northeast.

Heavy rain accompanied wind speeds of 35-45 mph (56-66 kmh) and gusts of 65 mph (104 kmh) early Thursday in the city that has only seen one other tropical storm warning.

Hurricane Irma roared into Florida as a deadly Category 4 hurricane in September 2017 causing widespread threats across the south.

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia, confirmed then that Atlanta — more than 250 miles (402 kilometers) inland from either the Atlantic or Gulf coasts — was under a tropical storm warning for the first time. Metro Atlanta saw peak winds of 30-40 mph (48-58 kmh) and gusts up to 55 mph (88 kmh).

Tropical storm warnings were issued as far away as southern Virginia, highly unusual for the region. Forecasters issued a string of tornado warnings for as far east as the Florida Panhandle.


1:30 a.m.

Zeta has weakened into a tropical storm over central Alabama.

The National Hurricane Center says strong winds are continuing over across portions of the state and the Florida panhandle early Thursday.

The storm was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south southeast of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (112 kmh). Zeta is moving quickly toward the northeast near 31 mph (49 kmh). The center of the storm will move across portions of the southeastern U.S. Thursday morning, move across the Mid-Atlantic states during the afternoon and over the western Atlantic by the evening. Additional weakening is expected and Zeta should decay into a non-tropical gale-force low later Thursday.

Storm surge warnings were in effect from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Alabama/Florida border.

At least one person was killed as Zeta slammed into the storm-weary Gulf Coast on Wednesday, thrashing the New Orleans metro area with rain and generating winds that ripped apart buildings and knocked out power before making its way through Mississippi and Alabama.


12:10 a.m.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans residents are left with a mess of storm debris on roads and lawns, some toppled trees and fences and power outages throughout the area after Hurricane Zeta.

“I don’t remember the last time we had a storm of this magnitude in October,” said Stephanie Becnel, surveying the damage with a flashlight, which mostly consisted of tree debris from the sprawling oaks lining the street outside her New Orleans home.

“We just cleaned up our yard and decorated for Halloween, so now we have to do it all over again,” Becnel said. “But I think that’s mainly what it’s going to be is just cleaning up debris, tree limbs, trash.”

Will Arute wasn’t so fortunate. A large section of oak tree snapped as the eyewall passed over New Orleans and crashed onto his car and a corner of the second story of his home. He said it sounded like a bomb went off.

“It was really intense, and the tree just cracked,” Arute said. “I did not anticipate this to happen. It was pretty intense along the eye wall when it went through here. Luckily, it wasn’t worse. No one got hurt. I just hope everybody else is safe.”


12:05 a.m.

D'IBERVILLE, Miss. — Mackenzie Umanzor didn’t evacuate from D’Iberville, Mississippi, when she heard Hurricane Zeta would be coming through the area.

“The last hurricane that came through, like a month or so ago, we definitely prepared a lot more because we were told that it was going to be category two. ... And it was a little bit of rain, a little bit of thunder, but really nothing too notable,” Umanzor, 19, said. “So then with Zeta, I didn’t personally prepare for it at all. ... But it started hitting and raining and then it just increasingly got really bad, really fast.”

The 30-pound (14-kilogram) weights that Umanzor had placed in front of her glass doors to secure them were quickly blown aside.

“The wind just blew them right out,” she said. “All types of stuff, vases, plants, my side tables, just flying across the room.”

The doors were blown open and she suffered a cut to her hand from broken glass as she pulled two couches in front of the panes. The power went out, and outside, she could hear the sound of the roof of her shed coming loose.

“You could hear the tin roof waving in the wind and the stronger the wind got. It was just rattling. And there was a couple of snaps, lots of cracks of branches and trees falling. … it was pretty scary.”

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