Hundreds of thousands flee coastal Louisiana ahead of Gustav
About 1.9 million of Louisiana's 2 million coastal residents had fled ahead of Hurricane Gustav by Sunday evening in the largest evacuation in state history, Louisiana's governor said.
More than 200,000 people have left New Orleans, leaving an estimated 10,000 people in the city Sunday night, Gov. Bobby Jindal said, citing New Orleans' police chief.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had demanded an evacuation of the city, which still is recovering from 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Forecasters warned Gustav -- a Category 3 storm Sunday night -- could hit Louisiana with devastating effect by early Monday afternoon.
Jindal said New Orleans' levees should "barely hold or barely be overtopped" if the storm, as predicted Sunday evening, hit southwest of the city.
But even a slight shift to the east could bring "very significant flooding in these areas," he said.
A leading researcher said the hurricane probably would test New Orleans' western levees, which, unlike levees in other parts of the city, didn't receive the brunt of Katrina's force in 2005. The western levees are low in some sections, he said.
"From the west bank of New Orleans all the way across to Morgan City ... we're going to see communities potentially go under water from levee overtopping and potential breaching," said Louisiana State University Professor Ivor van Heerden, who warned long before Katrina that a major hurricane would be catastrophic for New Orleans.
On Sunday night, road, rail and air links out of New Orleans began to close ahead of Gustav, whose center was about 220 miles (352 kilometers) southeast of the city at 11 p.m. ET.
The storm had sustained winds of 115 mph (184 kph), the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said. Category 3 hurricanes have sustained winds from 111 mph to 130 mph (178 kph to 209 kph).
The storm was moving across the Gulf of Mexico at 16 mph (26 kph).
Hurricane-force winds could hit Louisiana's southern coast by sunrise Monday, and the storm's center could hit southwest of New Orleans by early Monday afternoon, CNN meteorologists said.
Storm surges of 10 to 14 feet above normal tides are expected near and to the east of Gustav's center, forecasters said. Rain accumulations between 6 to 12 inches are possible over parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, with isolated amounts of up to 20 inches, through Wednesday morning, according to forecasters.
Gustav killed at least 51 people in southwestern Haiti and eight in the neighboring Dominican Republic last week before moving to Cuba, which said it evacuated 250,000 people from the storm's path. No storm-related deaths in Cuba were immediately reported; a Cuban official said many people were injured on Cuba's Isle of Youth.
In New Orleans, Lt. Col. Jerry Sneed, the city's emergency operations chief, said government agencies had evacuated 18,000 residents who were without transportation.
Jindal said the New Orleans area had finished evacuating homebound and nursing home patients by 7 p.m. ET Sunday, and 73 critical-care patients deemed OK to move still were in the process of being moved out of the area.
Some critical-care patients had to stay at medical facilities. Eighty patients remained Sunday evening at New Orleans Children's Hospital, more than half of them in a critical care unit. Nurse Crystal Mayeaux said she will not leave them.
"We are attached to all the babies here," Mayeaux said. "They know us."
Highways out of town were packed all day with evacuees from Louisiana and Mississippi.
"It was bumper-to-bumper for about 10 hours trying to get out," said Roberto Ascencio of the New Orleans suburb of Gretna.
Charter flights, paid for with federal funds, carried thousands of evacuees to other Southern cities. The air evacuation was part of a detailed plan developed in response to criticism after Katrina, a Category 3 storm, flooded most of New Orleans, flattened beach towns in Mississippi and killed more than 1,800 people.
Nagin said New Orleans would impose a "dusk-to-dawn" curfew for anyone left.
The city-wide curfew will continue until the threat of the storm passes, Nagin said, warning looters would be dealt with harshly.
"Anybody who's caught looting in the city of New Orleans will go directly to Angola [Louisiana State Penitentiary]. You will not have a temporary stay in the city. You go directly to the big house, in general population," he said.
The storm altered plans for the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled to run from Monday through Thursday in Minnesota.
Rick Davis, campaign manager for presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain, said Monday's session would run only from 3 to 5:30 p.m. CT, and will include only activities necessary to launch the event.
Convention plans for the rest of the week will be made as the storm is assessed, he said.
Earlier Sunday, President Bush said he would forgo an appearance at the convention to meet with emergency workers and evacuees in Texas.
Also Sunday, a federally supported computer projection says Gustav could cause up to $32.8 billion in property damage when it hits the Gulf Coast.
The software, developed by FEMA and the National Institute of Building Sciences, also projected Sunday that about 75,000 structures will be destroyed. The path also ensnares about 180 hospitals and more than 1,100 police and fire stations.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said government agencies were "10 times better prepared" than before -- but "that doesn't mean everything is going to go right," he said.
"Anybody who thinks everything is going to go perfect just doesn't know what they're talking about," Barbour said.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Hanna was churning in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday night and was expected to be near or over the southeastern Bahamas during the next day or two, the hurricane center said. It had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, the center said.
大型ハリケーン「グスタフ」が米中部時間１日昼にも、テキサス、ルイジアナなどメキシコ湾岸州に上陸する可能性が高まってい る。３年前にハリケーン「カトリーナ」で大きな被害が出たニューオーリンズ周辺は、略奪防止のための夜間外出禁止令が発令された。原子力発電所の運転停止 も予定されるなど緊迫している。
ルイジアナ州警察当局によると、すでに１９０万人が避難し、米主要メディアは、強制避難命令が出て人影が消えたニューオーリンズ市中心部を映し出 している。略奪被害が心配されるため、市当局は夜間外出禁止令を出した。米ＣＮＮ電子版によると、同市のネーギン市長は「空き巣で捕まった人はすぐに刑務 所に行ってもらう」と述べた。
ニューオーリンズ地域の電力会社エンタジーは２９日、「グスタフが上陸すると大規模な停電になる可能性がある」との警告を発表。強風による被害に 備えニューオーリンズの西３０キロにあるウォーターフォード原発の運転を停止する方針だ。高波で冷却水の取水が困難になる可能性などを想定しているとみら れる。