Zeta Causes Widespread Outages, Damage In Georgia; Voting Extension Sought Due To Storm

A fast-moving Zeta weakened to a tropical storm as it ripped through the South on Thursday morning, killing at least two and knocking out power to more than 2 million across the region.

NOAA / via AP

Updated Thursday at 6:47 p.m.

Many in Georgia woke up to power outages, downed trees and other storm damage after Tropical Storm Zeta moved through early Thursday. At least one death in the state has been attributed to the storm.

Georgia Power reported outages to more than 500,000 customers statewide and says it is working to restore service. The remnants of tropical storm Zeta moved across North Georgia.

Morning rush hour happened anyway in Atlanta, but commuters had to dodge downed trees and navigate their way past signals with no power. Trees blocked lanes on two interstates, the Georgia Department of Transportation said.

Meanwhile, the storm turned deadly in Cherokee County.

Heavy winds caused a tree to fall on a mobile home, killing one person inside, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Meteorologist Adam Baker with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City said the rain Thursday morning wasn’t the problem, it was the wind.

 “The rainfall amounts have been a little bit on the lower end overall maybe about 1 1/2 inches,” he said. “Primarily the main threat is the gusty winds.”

The rainfall should moved out by mid-morning.

In Cobb County, Department of Transportation crews were responding to dozens of downed tree calls and have pulled in crews from other county departments to assist in the cleanup.

One residential street in Marietta was covered by mix of campaign signs, amber and gold leaves, and limbs tossed by the storm. A few streets away, Billy Murdock was out picking up branches in his yard.

“These big old trees, they were swaying. It bothers you,” Murdock said. “It’s the worst storm I’ve been through in Atlanta.”

Request To Extend Early Voting Hours

A group of civil rights organizations is asking Georgia’s governor to extend early voting hours Friday after the storm disrupted voting Thursday in the battleground state.

Groups including the Georgia NAACP and Fair Fight Action called on Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to use emergency powers to order voting be extended through 9 p.m. Friday in affected areas.

Voting was disrupted at some sites in metro Atlanta and North Georgia after the storm caused power outages. Several polling places opened late.

Cobb County announced that all facilities, including advance voting locations, would delay opening until 10 a.m. Thursday due to the weather. Early voting locations in Fulton, Rockdale and several other metro Atlanta counties were also reporting delayed openings or outright closures.

Douglas County closed its courthouse and all other government offices Thursday, which means no early, in-person voting would be available there.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says that 15 counties were affected.

Friday is Georgia’s last day of early in-person voting. Record numbers of voters have cast ballots early in the state.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rare Warning In Atlanta

The storm raged onshore Wednesday afternoon in the small village of Cocodrie in Louisiana as a strong Category 2 and then moved swiftly across the New Orleans area and into neighboring Mississippi, bringing with it both fierce winds and storm surge. There was heavy rain at times but since the storm was so fast-moving, rain-related flooding wasn’t as much of a concern.

Zeta weakened to a tropical storm as it ripped through the South on Thursday morning, killing at least two, knocking out power to more than 2 million across the region and prompting a rare tropical storm warning for Atlanta. It was the second time ever the city has such a warning. Its first warning was in 2017 when Hurricane Irma roared into Florida as a deadly Category 4 storm.

WABE producer Maria White Tillman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.