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Environment

Louisiana urges residents to seek shelter as Hurricane Zeta nears

FILE PHOTO: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards speaks about his state's coronavirus response during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, on Wednesday warned residents in the path of the fast-moving Hurricane Zeta to take shelter as the storm bore down on the state.

The sixth tropical cyclone this year to lash Louisiana with high winds and rain is forecast to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon. The state continues to house more than 3,000 people made homeless from the earlier storms.

Moving at 20 miles per hour (35 kph), Zeta is expected to race across the southeast corner of the state and sweep across the U.S. southeast and reach mid-Atlantic states by Thursday.

“All of the southeast Louisiana region including the New Orleans area will face 100 mile-per-hour (161 kmh) winds,” Edwards told a news conference. The rapid speed, “means it’s not going to pound the area hour after hour” as other storms did this year, he said.

New Orleans, which is below sea-level, depends on 99 pumps powered by three turbines to prevent flooding.

“The three turbines will be enough to power all 99 pumps,” he said.

The state has closed 290 coastal flood gates to prevent flooding from storm surge, Edwards said, and activated 1,500 National Guard troops to help with rescue and recovery.

Rescue operations and storm damage assessments are expected to begin by Thursday morning, Edwards said.

Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by David Gregorio

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