Louisiana has been subjected to the some of the worst of the season. The state has been hobbled by a series of storms, including Cristobal in June, Marco in August, Sally and Beta in September, and Delta this month.
Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in the southwest corner of the state in August, was one of the most powerful storms to ever hit Louisiana. Some places, like communities in and around Lake Charles and in Cameron Parish, were still in the early stages of their recovery from Laura when Delta made landfall just weeks later.
More than 3,600 people remain in shelters after those two storms, officials said, with many of them staying in hotels in New Orleans or Baton Rouge and now finding themselves once again contending with a hurricane.
Zeta is breaking records because of where it is happening. Matt Lanza, a meteorologist and managing editor of Space City Weather, said it was the strongest storm on record so far west in the Gulf this late in the season. “I’ve been kind of flabbergasted watching this today,” he said. “This feels really weird.”
There had been some worry that it would be tough to mobilize residents beleaguered by a brutal season or, particularly in New Orleans, complacent after repeated threats from storms that never quite materialized.
But as Zeta strengthened in the final hours before landfall, the warnings started to resonate. In New Orleans especially, memories of past devastation remained seared in the minds of many. Virginia Felton could not help but drift back to Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago.
“It’s scary, way scary,” Ms. Felton, 39, said as she shopped in a packed supermarket near the French Quarter where checkout lines spanned the length of the building and snaked into the produce section in the front of the store.