August 29, 2008

Evacuations Begin in Louisiana

The mayor of New Orleans says it is "very probable" he will order the evacuation of New Orleans in advance of Tropical Storm Gustav.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said the order likely would come Saturday with Gustav expected to hit the Gulf Coast early Tuesday as a Category 3 hurricane, The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans reported Friday.

Nagin said emergency officials stand ready to move as many as 30,000 people out of harm's way -- many of them survivors of devastating Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in the Gulf Coast three years ago Friday.

"There may be some people out there who feel as though if they evacuate this time, they will never come back to the city of New Orleans, " Nagin said late Thursday. "Let me assure you, you can come back to this city. We just want to make sure that everyone is safe. We are better prepared this time."

Neighboring St. Charles Parish was to begin assisted evacuation Friday rather than Saturday because of the amount of time needed to help people get out of southeast and southwest Louisiana, The Times-Picayune reported.

Gustav churned slowly over Jamaica Friday after leaving 67 people dead in Hispaniola. Gustav was expected to reach hurricane strength Friday night before hitting the Grand Caymans.


Image Caption: An aerial view from a United States Navy helicopter showing floodwaters around the entire downtown New Orleans area (2005). US Navy Photo.