New Orleans battens down for Gustav with curfew and mass evacuation

Ewen MacAskill
London Guardian
Monday, Sept 1, 2008

Hundreds of thousands of people streamed out of New Orleans and other parts of America's Gulf coast yesterday as authorities ordered an immediate evacuation in the face of Hurricane Gustav. Ray Nagin, the mayor, warned residents they were facing the "storm of the century". "This is the real deal, not a test," he said.

Gustav's arrival comes days after the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 leaving more than 1,000 people dead and causing $30bn (£16.5bn) in damage, a disaster from which the city has not yet recovered.

Nagin imposed a curfew, effective from sunset last night, and warned that looters would be sent to Louisiana's main prison, the feared Angola penitentiary.

The storm forced the Republicans to cancel most of the programme for the first day of their four-day convention, which had been scheduled to begin today in Minneapolis-St Paul. President George Bush, and Vice-President Dick Cheney cancelled plans to speak at the convention tonight.

Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's governor, warned that storm surges could mean the waters would overflow levees. He ordered tens of thousands of national guard members to deploy in readiness.

Full article here

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