In Louisiana, it’s another day, another hurricane. This time, Hurricane Zeta, which is bringing mostly rain to my neighborhood but much more damage to the New Orleans area right now.
Just a few minutes ago, the storm breached the levees. I have friends in Algiers who are probably evacuating again. Earlier today, Governor Edwards made a statement that said that he was going to prioritize polling areas for Hurricane Zeta recovery. Right — Tuesday’s Election Day and hurricanes tend to knock out power for weeks. Lake Charles got hit twice and is still recovering. It took a day before my power was restored after Delta hit. Five days ago, my power was out for several hours as the result of a cyberattack on the grid. Yes, a cyberattack on the grid.
What will happen if a major hurricane hits right around Election Day and knocks out the power needed at the polling stations?
— KATC TV3 (@KATCTV3) October 29, 2020
In his statement, Governor Edwards said that the polling locations have been identified and that electrical power will be routed to those stations first in an effort to make sure they can be open on November 3. One of the good things about this hurricane is that it is a fast-moving storm so far and recovery crews can get started early Thursday morning. Along with those — search and rescue. “It will move through quickly, it won’t pound us for hour after hour,” Governor Edwards said. He also mentioned that he expects Louisiana to have its election without any issues on Tuesday.
However, this may not be the case for those still recovering from Hurricanes Laura and Delta in some areas of the state. This is the 3rd hurricane of the year for Louisiana, the 5th major storm, and the 7th evacuation in the state. Just a couple of weeks ago, Weather.com noted that Hurricanes Laura and Delta were complicating voting for displaced Louisianans. Thousands of people are displaced from their homes and are scattered across the state in hotel rooms or other temporary housing. Those who won’t be in their home parish on Election Day have two options: voting early in person or casting a mail-in ballot, but we’re getting a bit late for that now, especially with a crippled US postal service (brilliant timing).
This article noted that more than 9,100 residents were still in emergency shelters as of a couple of weeks ago and some were in hotels in and around the New Orleans area, which is currently being impacted by Zeta.
— Reshaud (@Reshaud) October 29, 2020
Displaced voters have until October 30th to request an absentee ballot, which must be returned by November 2. However, with Trump’s admission that he is blocking postal service cash to stop mail-in votes, the US Postal Service recommended that requesting an absentee ballot should be done at least two weeks before Election Day and mailed back in at least by October 27. Uh, that was yesterday.
So, my question is, what if this would have been a Category 4 or 5 that hit our state and had much more damage? Where I live, a Cat 3 would do a lot of damage and that would most likely be the level of the storm as it would make its way from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. I’m an hour north of New Orleans. Fortunately, the storm made landfall as a Cat 2 (well, just 1 mph short of a Cat 3) and is moving fast. We are also struggling with a cold front and the covid crisis.
Even though it is late in the season, which ends on November 1st, there’s actually another potential hurricane in the Gulf.
Sorry to do this, but 👀 ⤵
After Hurricane Zeta, area in Caribbean Sea has a chance to develop in the next few days. Here are the details: https://t.co/lkKuXwn4ee
— NOLA.com (@NOLAnews) October 29, 2020
How would this impact our elections? This has been an insane hurricane season. Louisiana has been not in the cone of uncertainty, but has become the cone of uncertainty for at least 7 times this year. (For those who don’t know that this means, the cone of uncertainty is that area that is often in red when you look at the weather maps. It’s the probable path of the center (eye) of a storm and it is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of circles along the path.) Earlier this month, NOLA.com published an article noting that we have been in the cone six times this year. Zeta is our seventh. And every time, my city was on that path.
It’s been a pretty intense hurricane season that stole about 30–40 of my shingles from my roof, shut my power off for a day, and has had winds haunting my dreams. I can’t get Delta’s whistling moans out of my head or the memory of my house shaking like someone was beating it on all sides. And I’m lucky — I still have a home. Thousands do not, and are trying to make ends meet. During the hassle of the storms, they are also hoping to vote and have their voices heard. However, with all the corruption coming from the White House and the attacks on our democracy, many may feel that voting isn’t worth the hassle — not when they don’t even have a home to go to right now. Nor a job.
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