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Zeta buffets Southeast after swamping Gulf Coast; 6 dead

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Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 18:12:33-04

Power restoration from Hurricane Zeta is well underway in Louisiana.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says 469,000 homes and businesses remained without power mid-morning on Thursday. That’s down from a peak of 531,000 outages in the state.

Edwards did not give a timeline for full restoration, but says recovery work should be easier because the heaviest damage was to utility poles and other distribution lines, rather than the primary transmission hubs.

Gov. Edwards says polling places are among the sites taking priority amid efforts to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands in the wake of Hurricane Zeta.

The governor said Thursday that he’s consulting with Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin to see whether some polling sites might have to be changed ahead of Tuesday’s election. The challenge, he said, is making the decision quickly and getting the word out to voters early enough. Edwards said the changes have to be recommended by Ardoin and agreed to by the governor and legislators.

Possibilities include shifting polls to other, temporary locations or consolidating polling places in one large venue. Edwards’ remarks came during a news conference in New Orleans.

Early voting ended Tuesday, so Zeta hasn’t disrupted any voting so far.

If changes prove necessary, Edwards said, “I expect that we’ll be moving in that direction sooner rather than later because the hard part here is you have to make the decision early enough to communicate to voters so that they’re not deprived of the opportunity to cast that vote on Tuesday.”

The storm has claimed six lives, according to The Associated Press. A man was electrocuted in New Orleans, and four people died in Alabama and Georgia when trees fell on homes, authorities said. They included two people who were left pinned to their bed, Gwinnett County fire officials said.

And in Biloxi, Mississippi, Leslie Richardson, 58, drowned when he was trapped in rising seawater after taking video of the raging storm. Richardson and another man exited a floating car and desperately clung to a tree before his strength “just gave out,” Harrison County coroner Brian Switzer said.

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