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New Orleans reports first death from Hurricane Zeta

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Bourbon Street in the New Orleans French Quarter is empty as Hurricane Zeta approaches the area Wednesday. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/b5a07c8c7ca2da7e16a07a3ccb4624ba/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Bourbon Street in the New Orleans French Quarter is empty as Hurricane Zeta approaches the area Wednesday. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 28 (UPI) -- New Orleans reported the first death related to Hurricane Zeta as the storm ripped through the Gulf Coast Wednesday night.

The powerful storm made landfall in Louisana as a Category 2 storm packing 110-mph winds and New Orleans EMS reported that it responded to a high-voltage electrocution fatality.

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In a press conference, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the person, whose identity was not immediately released, died after touching a live wire.

First responders had to wait for utility personnel to turn off power to the line before they could provide aid and Cantrell urged residents to remain inside and let city officials assess damage from the storm.

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"We do not want to lose another life," she said.

Zeta lashed Louisiana as the eye passed over the state on Wednesday evening, with tropical storm warnings extending to more than 600 miles and covering Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

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Hurricane warnings were issued for metropolitan New Orleans and other parts of southeastern Louisiana ahead of the storm's arrival, which forecasters warned would bring life-threatening storm surge, strong winds and heavy rains.

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"It's coming fast and it's coming strong," New Orleans mayor Cantrell said. "This is not a drill."

There were 537,699 customers without power in Louisiana while Mississipi reported 216,030 outages and Alabama reported 134,570 more as Zeta began to pass through them, according to poweroutage.us.

Officials in the Jefferson and Terrebonne parishes in Louisiana issued mandatory evacuation orders for coastal areas and places outside major levees, while New Orleans issued voluntary evacuations for similar areas.

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"I don't think we're going to be as lucky with this one," said Collin Arnold, New Orlean's emergency preparedness director.

The Gulf Coast was also hit by Hurricanes Laura, Marco, Sally and Delta this year, as well as Tropical Storms Cristobal, Fay and Beta.

"We've had a lot of near misses this year," New Orleans's Cantrell tweeted Wednesday. "Pretty clear now that [Zeta] will be a direct hit in [New Orleans]. Finish your preparations this morning. Conditions will deteriorate in the afternoon."

New Orleans Public Schools canceled in-person classes for Wednesday.

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In Jefferson Parish, officials said nearly 300 drainage pumps and pumping stations are operational and ready for the storm.

Prior to the storm's arrival, thousands in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama finished preparations including stuffing sandbags, installing shutters and stocking supplies.

In New Orleans, the city's transit authority suspended all ferry service after final scheduled runs Tuesday night and all parking restrictions were lifted.

At the harbor in Gulfport, Miss., holiday light displays and a Santa's Village were hastily dismantled and packed away ahead of the storm.

"[We're] making sure that we protect any of our power components that we have out here by taking those up so the water doesn't get to those," Gulfport Special Events Coordinator Catherine Hasty told WLBT-TV.

On Dauphin Island in Alabama, residents prepared for storm surge and flooding. The island is still cleaning up from Hurricane Sally.

"There's still piles of trash everywhere," resident Rhett King told WPMI-TV.

"Here we go again."

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said the greatest concerns are flooding and power outages. Hundreds of thousands of customers are expected to lose electricity as Zeta passes through.

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