Officials in the southern U.S. state of Louisiana have ordered
residents to evacuate their homes ahead of Hurricane Gustav, which is
expected to hit land near the city of New Orleans on Monday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday evening Gustav's winds
were 185 kilometers per hour. Forecasters warned the hurricane could
strengthen overnight. They said the center of the storm was located 350
kilometers southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and was
moving toward the northwest at about 30 kilometers per hour.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said on Sunday that all 64 of the state's parishes (counties) have
declared states of emergency. He also said no one should assume the
levees of New Orleans are as strong as they need to be. Levee failure
during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 flooded most of the city.
Federal disaster management officials say they are moving emergency
supplies and personnel into positions at locations around the expected
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said he is imposing a nighttime curfew in
the city and doubling the police force. He called Gustav "the storm of
President Bush plans to travel to the neighboring state of Texas Monday
to meet with emergency workers. He said he hopes to visit Louisiana as
soon as conditions permit.
Last week Gustav crossed over Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican
Republic, taking at least 80 lives. In Cuba, state media say some
250-thousand people were evacuated from Gustav's path as it crossed the
island Saturday -- but no deaths were reported.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told reporters Sunday
that local authorities are much better prepared for this storm than
they were for Hurricane Katrina.
Federal and local authorities were roundly criticized for a slow
response to that storm, which killed some 14-hundred people and
devastated the Gulf Coast.
Local official Aaron Broussard (president of Jefferson Parish)
has pleaded with residents to "have the courage to leave" despite fears
of losing homes and property -- in some cases, homes repaired or
rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. He said those who ignore evacuation
orders will not be able to count on local or state services to survive