Sandbags available in New Orleans as city prepares for Hurricane Zeta

Tracking the Tropics

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is monitoring Hurricane Zeta, which is expected to make landfall in Southeast Louisiana on Wednesday.

Tropical storm force winds (more than 35 mph), coastal flooding of 4 to 6 feet, and heavy rain in the New Orleans metro area is possible with this storm.

The City is calling for a voluntary evacuation of areas outside the levee system, including Irish Bayou, Venetian Isles, and Lake Catherine, beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Neutral ground parking will be allowed starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, although residents are asked not to block streetcar tracks, intersections, or bike or walking paths. 

Residents are encouraged to gather emergency supplies, including food, water, and medications, for at least three days. Those who might need extra help during a storm due to age, ability, or medical needs should sign up for the City’s Special Needs Registry.

To register, call 3-1-1 or go to specialneeds.nola.gov. The City will also provide text updates to residents. To sign up, text ZETA to 888777 (subscribers who received texts for Delta, Beta, Sally, Laura, Marco, or Cristobal will automatically be subscribed).  

In partnership with the New Orleans City Council, the City of New Orleans will provide sandbags on Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (or until supplies last) at the following locations:  

  • Arthur Monday Center, 1111 Newton St. 
  • Dryades YMCA, 2220 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. 
  • Saint Maria Goretti Church, 7300 Crowder Blvd. 
  • NOFD Engine 8, Desire and Law Streets

Service Impacts 

City Hall, NORD, New Orleans Public Libraries, and NOLA Public Schools are monitoring the storm and will announce any impacts to services as warranted.  

Early voting will continue as scheduled, with the final day being Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at multiple sites in Orleans Parish. Drive-thru ballot drop-off at City Hall is scheduled to begin Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for those who registered to vote by mail. The Registrar of Voters will notify the public if schedule changes are warranted due to the storm. 

Trash and recycling collection will continue as scheduled; however, cancellations may be necessary as the storm nears.

The City of New Orleans COVID-19 Meal Assistance Program will continue regularly scheduled deliveries and has contingency plans should weather impacts require schedule changes. 

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing at UNO, Mahalia Jackson Theater, Edna Karr High School, and the Living School has been cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday as the Louisiana National Guard prepares to respond to storm impacts. Testing schedules will be updated at ready.nola.gov/mobile-testing

Public Safety Preparations 

The City’s Emergency Operations Center, which has been continuously activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will now transition into a hurricane response with liaisons from public safety, infrastructure, transportation, and human service agencies, as well as State and Federal partners.

The New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) is communicating with healthcare partners to ensure they are informed and prepared for tropical weather. NOHD remains on standby for sheltering operations should the need arise. 

The New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans Fire Department, and Emergency Medical Services have emergency personnel ready to respond as necessary. High-water vehicles, boats, and barricades are being strategically deployed in areas prone to flooding. The Orleans Parish Communications District, who administers 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 services, is in standby status and is prepared to move to Level-2 staffing if necessary. 

Infrastructure Preparations 

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) is closely monitoring Hurricane Zeta. Currently, all 99 drainage pumps are available for service. Regarding power, Turbines 1,3, and 6 are available as well as all 5 Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) generators and all frequency changers. Turbine 3 is designated for emergency use only. Turbine 4 tripped yesterday and is currently under repair. It will likely not be available for this weather event. This means that areas that normally flood could take longer to drain, depending on rain intensity. Starting today, daily emergency preparation meetings are held with department managers. All SWBNO employees are prepared and ready to switch to emergency operations as the situation develops. We encourage residents to follow @SWBNewOrleans on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates throughout the event. 

As they do year-round, Department of Public Works crews are working to clean catch basins and asphalt crews are transitioning from asphalt-related work to clearing debris from in front of catch basins. Inspectors and construction managers will review roadwork construction sites to ensure stockpiles are moved from next to catch basins and all loose materials are tied down or removed from the job site.

The Department of Parks and Parkways has crews ready to respond to downed trees, branches, and other hazards on neutral grounds. Residents are reminded to call 311 if you have a downed tree or large branches that can be addressed before the storm. Additionally, crews are removing signs from neutral grounds to prevent potential projectiles during strong winds. Campaigns are cautioned that signs that could become flying hazards may be removed due to the potential storm impacts.

Entergy New Orleans’ storm team is prepared to restore power and gas services safely and quickly to customers should outages occur. In addition, the company will move equipment from low-lying areas that could see high water to higher ground and ensure flood protections are in place. High-water vehicles and drones are being secured should they be needed during any restoration efforts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crews will continue to practice social distancing while in the field, and Entergy asks that customers do the same. For the safety of crews and customers, please stay away from work zones. If there is a need to report a service problem, customers should call 1-800-ENTERGY. 

Here’s how customers can stay updated throughout the event: 

  • Download the Entergy App at entergyapp.com. Customers can use the app to report outages or check on the status of power at their home or business. 
  • Entergy’s View Outages website includes maps that show where outages are located and give information about restoration progress. 
  • Sign up for text messages by texting REG to 36778 and have your account number and ZIP code handy. The registration pattern is as follows including spaces: REG (account number) (ZIP code). Once registered, text OUT to 36778 to report an outage. You can also report an outage online as a guest. 

Transportation 

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority continues to monitor Hurricane Zeta. The agency will maintain service across all modes as long as weather conditions allow to do safely. For the latest information on storm impacts, visit www.RTAforward.org, call the Rideline at 504-248-3900 or follow @NewOrleansRTA on social media. 

The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is monitoring Hurricane Zeta for potential impacts to the New Orleans region. The Airport will remain open unless conditions become unsafe. At this time, no cancellations have been reported, but anyone with travel scheduled should check directly with their airline for the most up-to-date information about flight schedules. 

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