Even with significant power outages and downed trees, officials and residents in Louisiana expressed gratitude Thursday that Hurricane Zeta’s wrath wasn’t more punishing.
“Please be patient,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans. “It could have been worse.”
Though there had been concerns about the city’s aging municipal drainage system, it was able to keep up with the rainfall’s inch-an-hour pace. Some of the lift stations used to move sewage had failed “in a variety of places,” said Ramsey Green, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer for infrastructure and operations, who told residents to expect to see the agency’s “loud yellow vehicles” working in manholes around town, providing power to failed lift stations.
Crews who had weathered the storm at the city’s Department of Parks and Parkways rolled out in trucks as soon as the winds died down, clearing meandering paths one-car wide through piles of greenery along Gentilly Boulevard and other tree-lined streets. Still, Mr. Green said, “There’s a ton of vegetation in the streets right now” and it would take time to clear.
Many residents sat outside after the storm, enjoying the 70-degree weather and checking on neighbors. But almost nothing commercial was open. Nearly all of the businesses that are the lifeblood of urban nightlife — gas stations, fast-food joints, mini-marts, bars — were closed.
On Royal Street in the Ninth Ward, Benny Naghi and his staff used flashlights to usher customers through his store, Mardi Gras Zone. He wanted to stay open, to serve his community, but he could only take cash, because his credit-card and cash machines had no electricity. That will continue until the bucket trucks and powerline repair crews are able to repair blown transformers and lines downed by Zeta’s high winds.
A few miles away, near where Elysian Fields Avenue meets Interstate 610, the bright lights of Brother’s Food Mart, powered by generators, were a bright beacon for the surrounding area. Its parking lot was jam-packed and lines of people had stretched out the door all through the night, as customers came to pump gas, use the store’s A.T.M., and buy groceries and cigarettes, said a clerk, Raad Assabahi, on Thursday morning.
“Everyone else was closed, we only were open,” Mr. Assabahi said. “And we haven’t stopped.”